In many ways, the Church will never be the same post-COVID-19. Throughout her history, the Church has developed in response to major global events, and today is no different. Churches have experienced so many adjustments in such a short period of time. Individuals, families, communities, even entire nations, have all been impacted in real and lasting ways. Although we do not know exactly what life will be like after the dust settles from this pandemic, we do recognize that we will be living in a new state of normalcy. As you pursue reopening your church, we desire to help your church navigate into this “new normal” in a manner that will strengthen your ministry impact.
This Essential Guide to Reopening Your Church Post-COVID-19 provides resources to help you prayerfully reflect on where your church is today, assess the possibilities of what tomorrow may look like, and develop thoughtful plans for living on mission while reopening your church doors to your community.
Yes, many things have changed. However, some things remain unchanged:
- God is still God. We serve a God who is unshaken by the events that unfold around us. We join Job in declaring that God is our Redeemer, and our Redeemer lives! God is in the work of redemption, taking that which was meant for evil and redeeming it for His purposes and His glory. We believe that is exactly what He is doing with this crisis, taking the piercing pain of this pandemic and redeeming it in such a way that many will learn of the hope found in Jesus and embrace the truth of Christ.
- Our mission and calling remains the same. Regardless of the changes in ministry methods we have made during this time, our purpose still stands: making disciples as we introduce people to the life-transforming Way of Jesus. We are called to continue seeking ways to introduce others to the hope and truth of Christ.
- Wise leadership continues to be necessary. People are looking for direction, guidance and truth. Humble, discerning leaders are a necessity. Encouraging and equipping the people God has entrusted to you and your ministry is of paramount importance, especially in times of change and transition. When situations are rapidly evolving, wise leadership helps ease anxiety and uncertainty.
Essential Guide to Reopening Your Church Post-COVID-19: Contents
Nine Vital Considerations for Post-COVID-19 Church Ministry
Initial Church Assessment
To adequately prepare for reopening your church doors, it is best to understand where your church is now in relation to some of the projected realities we will be facing in the wake of this pandemic. We do not know exactly how the government will choose to adjust shelter-in-place orders or what gathering restrictions will be enforced, but we must begin processing through the possibilities and planning for the future. Following are some recommended topics for conversations with your ministry leaders to assist you in assessing the steps your church will want to take, along with some practical options for ministry moving forward.
- Staggered openings. From what is currently being reported it seems permission to gather publicly will roll out in different ways based on your geographical location. Many models for COVID-19 indicate that some hot spots will cool down while others might flare-up. If that is the case, in some areas public gatherings will be permitted while others will have tighter restrictions. Assess the current impact COVID-19 has had in your locale. Consider how your local government has been responding, and what you might anticipate in the days ahead so you can best prepare. You will want to keep this in mind as you work through the rest of this guide.
- Size of gatherings. Government restrictions on the size of gatherings will impact how soon you can meet publicly. For example, in the US the federal government has released a phased plan for reopening the country. State governors can implement the plan on either a county-by-county or statewide basis contingent on certain criteria being satisfied. In Phase 2 of this plan, social settings of more than 50 people should be avoided, however places of worship can operate under physical distancing protocols.You need to develop a plan for how your church will approach ministry when smaller social gatherings are permitted. Depending on the size of your church, you might choose to have two or three weekend worship times and limit the number of people to 50 in each. If your church is larger, you may decide it makes sense to wait until larger groups can gather before relaunching your in-person weekend worship gatherings. Smaller affinity-based gatherings might work, however, so you may be able to host events like women’s bible studies, junior high ministry, volunteer team gatherings, etc.
- Your own building or rented facilities? If you have your own church building, then you will be able to make decisions based upon the lifting of restrictions and the recommendations of your local government. However, if you are a mobile/portable church that is renting facilities, you should prepare for the possibility that you may not be able to get into those facilities for a prolonged time. Schools that have closed for the year are unlikely to open over the summer for churches to use. Movie theaters and other community spaces may be more hesitant to open up for church gatherings, and some may stop renting facilities altogether.