Destino embraces ministry online in the midst of COVID-19

An interview with Mauricio Dell’Arciprete, Pastor of Destino.Church and NWC Coordinator of Latino Ministries

It was a Wednesday. We were preparing for the Sunday service, as we always do, when we heard the World Health Organization declare COVID-19 a global pandemic. From there everything started to change by the hour.

We had three emergency meetings in less than 48 hours, until we made the final decision to suspend all church meetings and activities until further notice. That’s when we invited the whole congregation to worship God connected online!

Describe your experience moving Destino Covenant Church online due to the current situation.

Our first online service was audio only, basically a podcast. The following week we prepared a video recorded service using an iPhone, including a welcome, announcements and message. Still very basic.

The week after that we were able to create more of the structure you see today, following a similar flow to our regular gatherings. We are now including testimonies from church members, recorded and shared using smart phones.

How did the congregation adjust to this new method of worship?

The first Sunday, people didn’t know exactly what to expect. Honestly, we didn’t either. The following week, we started using the free Church Online Platform provided by Life.Church and that was a huge step forward. The sound and video quality, the chat, the live prayer and the interaction with the congregation changed the initial resistance.

There is a difference between an “audience” and a “congregation”—the sense of community. This platform is allowing us to create community through live interaction with people.

On Easter Sunday, 12 people made a commitment to follow Jesus during our Salvation Call, and many more committed to their next step on their journey of faith though our online service!

We didn’t stop there. After the service, all of the attendees were invited to a Zoom meeting to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. Many joined us in our first ever Communion at Home. It was really memorable!

How has the current crisis impacted ministry beyond the Sunday service?

We quickly realized that the “why” we do what we do has not changed. However, everything else has changed, as you know. So we asked ourselves, how can we be disciples who make disciples during this time of crisis?

COVID-19 is not the only disease out there: anxiety and depression are threatening our lives and are devastating individuals and families. Social distancing has led to many feeling isolated and alone during this time. People are more aware of their need to connect with God and others than ever before.

That is why at Destino, we moved our Bible Institute and weekly discipleship gatherings online using Zoom and made the commitment to double the amount of small groups we previously had.

Technology is challenging for some, but with guidance and encouragement it has been embraced. One member said, “I was very skeptical about Small Groups Online, but after the first meeting I realized how much I needed to feel connected, heard and loved.”

Do you have a word of encouragement for other Pastors?

We know that the “Church” is not a building. It’s the ministry we do every day in every way. We don’t go to church, we are the Church. And nothing can stop us from sharing the love of Jesus with a hurting world.

Our methods might change but our mission remains the same. Don’t be afraid to find new ways to fulfill God’s call on your life.