Leading Through Covid and Learning From It

When people look to the church for help, Debbie Causey and her team are ready and waiting. The Care Ministry comprises nine different ministry areas ranging from marriage counseling and financial support to substance abuse and parenting LGBT kids. It’s a big job. And as you can probably guess, 2020 has kept them busy.

Debbie, tell our readers about you and your role at NPM.

I’ve been working at North Point for 22 years, focused on Care Ministry for the last 20. I’m a licensed professional counselor and an ordained minister—a counselor and pastor in equal parts.

The vision of the Care Ministry is to meet people where they are and connect them with a better way forward. Our strategy is not to start or staff ministries to meet every possible need. After all, with roughly 30,000 attendees across all our campuses, it would be impossible for us to help everyone. Instead, we search our community to identify established experts we can point people to—like marriage and family counselors or addiction and recovery organizations. This partnership approach allows us to do more with less.

What has 2020 looked like for the Care Ministry?

Well, you might think that when COVID-19 hit, our phones blew up with people in the community asking for help. But that’s not at all what happened!

Everyone was just trying to get by, I think. We all had so much to figure out—suddenly working remotely, homeschooling kids, being homebound. People lost their jobs and could see financial hardships coming or were experiencing anxiety—but they weren’t ready to ask for help . . . yet.

What surprised me early in the pandemic was the deluge of requests that came from our staff. They weren’t asking for personal support necessarily. They were adjusting ministry plans and trying to help their volunteers and attendees. And that meant talking about Care-related topics.

Our ministry isn’t big and flashy like Sunday morning programming or warm and fuzzy like global missions. People don’t want to advertise that they’re struggling in their marriage or finances or with addiction. As a result, our team sort of runs behind the scenes—always here and always helping, but rarely drawing public attention. Then COVID-19 hit and, all of the sudden, it felt like we were called up to the big leagues. Everyone in our organization was turning to me asking, "What are we going to do?" And, honestly, I had no idea. My team was pretty overwhelmed.

One of the first things we helped with was adjusting all of our websites to lead with a Care-related message. We wanted people to know as soon as they visited our sites that we were here to help.

Next, we drafted a financial relief document to answer some of the most common questions people were asking as it related to money. We did the same around emotional relief for people who found they were struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Then, when racial justice conversations began, we initiated the creation of web pages with resources to help navigate those discussions.

Ultimately, we have been trying to anticipate the kind of help people will need so we could prepare tools in advance and make them easy to access.

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