No doubt, we are all looking forward to the day that the “stay home” orders and restrictions are lifted and we can start getting back to our normal routines. This is especially true of our churches, as the Body of Christ longs for corporate worship and fellowship. As much as we would like to return to “business as usual” as soon as possible, there are a few things you should consider as restrictions lessen and we start to meet again.
This will be a gradual process.
Just as we saw these orders gradually become more strict over several weeks when this crisis started, we can expect a gradual “opening up”, especially with larger crowds.
Return, but stay safe.
It will be important to still keep certain protocols in place when we return. Physical distancing and more thorough cleaning and sanitation should be maintained. Keep hand sanitizers and wash stations available, and encourage contactless greetings (no hand shakes or hugs yet). Coffee stations or self-serve food areas may not be a good idea when we first return. Those that are sick or who have symptoms should stay home until they feel better. Special attention should be given to those who are more vulnerable to the virus.
Create spaces for smaller gatherings.
We may need to continue in this mode of creativity and innovation, and create some new worship options, keeping our meetings under the allowed crowd limits. If your congregation exceeds the group limits, you may consider creating some smaller worship “venues” around campus. Maybe provide more time options. If the weather is nice, an outdoor service may be a great idea.
Don’t abandon your digital ministry.
If streaming or posting videos to YouTube and Facebook was new to your church, it may be tempting to drop those tasks once we are able to start meeting again. Don’t stop yet! Continue to provide an option for those in your congregation who can’t attend or don’t feel like they should. Additionally, the online prayer times and video check-ins have been a part of your church’s “new normal” for a while now. Keep it going and see if this might turn in to a new ministry to those outside your Sunday morning crowd.
Continue to connect to individuals.
Even as things return to normal, many will still be struggling. So much has changed. Many have faced difficulties. People will be hurting, confused, and worried about what is next. As all of this begins to sink in, the need for hope will be greater than ever. Find time to connect with people one on one, by phone, video call, or as the restrictions lessen, in person.
Call the church to action.
As we return, it would be a great time to call the church to action. Look for needs in your community your church could embrace. As appropriate, ask volunteers to help with worship service prep, or help with continued digital ministry. Some may be able to help check on others in your congregation. Check in with your normal volunteers and reach out to some new ones. Get them excited about being the hands and feet of Jesus during this time.
Consider these things over the next few weeks, and take time to come up with your own “re-entry” plan for your church. Looking for more? Check out these resources: