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Essential Guide to Reopening Your Church Post-COVID-19

#7 Prioritize Outreach in Your Community

The Church has left the building… let’s keep that momentum going!  The efforts you have been making during this pandemic to serve your community and reach others must continue beyond the crisis. This is an aspect to our “new normal” and a great opportunity for you to help your people see the beauty and power of being the Church outside of your walls.

The following strategies will help your church stay on mission and keep community outreach a priority:

  • Neighborhood Focus: Helping Your Neighbors – As mentioned in #1 above, a simple Neighbors Helping Neighbors movement in your community will mobilize your people to continue connecting with those closest to them. Your goal should be to get your people accustomed to engaging with their neighbors on a regular basis. This is typically one of the biggest challenges for local churches, however this crisis has opened the door for your church to champion this among your members. Keep this in front of them, speak of it often, equip them with helpful tools to connect, share stories from your ministry leaders of how you are getting to know your neighbors better… this is a massive opportunity for every single church.
  • Back to Church SundayNational Back to Church Sunday is celebrated the third Sunday of September each year. This year may be the biggest Back to Church Sunday ever as churches are reopening their doors to their communities. Even if your area permits some public gatherings over the next few months, it is likely that a sense of normalcy will not be felt by the majority of the population until school has resumed in the fall. There are so many unknowns and families with children are experiencing a lot of changes and making ongoing adjustments. September could be the perfect time to have a large Back to Church celebration as you relaunch family ministries and invite your entire city to your church. The 2020 theme for National Back to Church Sunday is Stronger Together, which resonates positively with what so many people are experiencing.
  • Celebrate Your Community Together In many respects there is a beautiful sense of unity in our towns and cities as people from all walks of life come together to overcome the chaos of this crisis. Once people can begin meeting together, your church can support and promote this feeling by creating opportunities for your community to gather and celebrate. Here are some suggestions for community events your church can host:
    • Movie Night in the Park – Get a site license to show a blockbuster, family-friendly movie in your local park and invite the whole town
    • Special Speakers – Create a fun event headlined by a guest speaker, such as a professional athlete or comedian. This is a great way to bring the community together for a relaxing and fun evening which you can either host at your church or at a community event center.
    • Festival – Invite other organizations in your area to join your church in hosting a festival at a local park. Have games, face painting, inflatables, concessions, and more.
    • Local Heroes Party – The heroes in your community deserve to be celebrated and this is a perfect opportunity for your church to invite the entire city to express their gratitude. Connect with city leaders for guidance, but look into inviting healthcare workers, teachers, police officers, first responders, postal workers, sanitation workers, everyone who kept your city going through the pandemic. Throw a party honoring them and lead your community in saying thank you for all they have done.


#8 Evaluate Your Budget & Resource Allocations

No doubt your church has made some big changes in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps some ministries in your church have been stopped, either because of logistics or funding, while other ministries have been launched.  Do not rush to “relaunch” all of the ministries that have been put on pause.  Take time to evaluate those ministries with your leadership team to determine if they should be started again post-COVID-19. This can be a positive opportunity, as it is somewhat of a challenge to cut ministries that are no longer necessary or have outlived their usefulness and effectiveness. Take time with your leadership team to determine what may need additional support and what will cease.

Investments have likely been made in new areas of ministry, such as digital and online services. Consider how you will budget for these moving forward and be willing to adjust your finances accordingly. Marketing and promotion of your church and ministries is vital during this time as many people are searching for answers. Now is the time for your church to be setting money aside for raising awareness of your church and developing outreach opportunities in your community.

What does an emergency budget look like for your church? If your giving does not rebound to pre-pandemic rates, how will you approach ministry? Consider creating budgets based upon 80% giving and 60% giving so you will be prepared. Your people may be recovering from loss of income, or even loss of jobs. This would obviously impact church finances. Even if your giving does come back in full, having an emergency budget ready can be helpful for any future crises.


#9 Seize Opportunities to Expand Your Church Presence Offline

Sadly, there are places where a faithful Gospel presence has ceased. The reality is that there are some churches that have been unable to survive this pandemic. Every year churches close, even in times of abundance. With the added pressures of this crisis, many church researchers believe that an even greater number of churches will be forced to close their doors. This means there will be neighborhoods that will lose that faithful Gospel presence.

  • How do we respond to these closures? 
  • Can our church help maintain, and even grow, a Kingdom presence in these areas? Could you create a new venue from a church that is struggling? 

You and your leadership should evaluate multisite options, even if you never have in the past. Again, there will likely be gaps in the church landscape in your area and your church may be able to step into those gaps and continue ministry in those neighborhoods.  Prayerfully consider if this is something God is leading you to pursue.

Another option is to see how you might adopt a church that has been unable to weather the crisis. Perhaps there is a church in your area that has a similar heart, but has been really strained.  Could your church help support that ministry, either financially or with other resources? Could you potentially merge as one single church, but minister to a larger area? What might that look like for both churches?

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Jason serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at PastorServe, a ministry committed to strengthening the Church by serving pastors through personal coaching and church consulting. He also hosts FrontStage BackStage, a podcast and YouTube show, that helps pastors embrace healthy, well-balanced leadership as they develop a sustainable rhythm for life and ministry. Prior to joining the PastorServe team, Jason served as Vice President of Ministry Mobilization at Outreach, Inc., and as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement. Additionally, Jason served for nearly two decades in pastoral leadership, primarily as a lead pastor, in several contexts, including church plant re-launch, multisite church, multiethnic urban church, and an established suburban church. His experience as a lead pastor has provided numerous opportunities to coach and mentor pastors across the country. Jason and his beautiful wife, Monica, are the proud parents of six children and live on Anastasia Island, Florida. @jasondaye