Long-Term Planning for a Slow Reopening — Thoughts for Pastors and Church Leaders
March 2020 seems years away. Pastors and church leaders still find themselves navigating the effects of the Coronavirus.
I think it’s vital to recognize that reopening and getting back to a semblance of normalcy will take longer than we anticipated. Even with a set of favorable circumstances, including a vaccine, many people will cautiously and reluctantly go back to their routine, including the church.
Rather than waiting for the end of the pandemic, pastors and church leaders can ask a better question: What can we do right now to support a church family amid uncertainty?
The pandemic expedited a shift for churches to recognize the value of the 167 hours during the week as much as the one hour on Sunday morning. Nona Jones and Brady Shearer have often repeated this number to pastors and church leaders.
Let’s assume reopening could take months or years done the road. All of us would like a pleasant surprise for it to happen sooner. An assumption of a slow reopening invites us to focus on the other 167 during the week.
As you discuss plans for the next few months, I want to share a few ideas for you and the teams you serve in the church to consider long-term planning for a slow reopening:
1. Love the church family online and in-person.
The people who attend church online have real concerns about limiting the spread of the Coronavirus. I would rather honor their love and care for others as they commit to joining church online. Pastors and church leaders need to hold in tandem their support for those online and in-person. That comes down to clear messaging and reiterating love for people no matter what platform they attend church.
2. Invest in Kid’s Content Online (Hint — it’s about the parents)
Early in the pandemic discussion, my friend Adam McGuffie made this statement, “What if churches offered content for kids that freed parents up to engage the message?”
Think about it. Schools have irregular schedules. Parents have extra roles as educators. Any content created for kids ultimately provides a reprieve for a parent. Just this last weekend, I started listening to podcasts with my two-year-old daughter. Sometimes we think video, but a podcast is not screen and more comfortable producing. Engage a child and help a parent.
3. Empower and celebrate people gathering together outside the church building.
In some circles, the church became the center of the social calendar. The church would plan an event for people to come together. Now more than ever, the church needs to gather (online and digital) to scatter.
Small group leaders need to know that they can bring their group together under the right social distance practices. Also, the church needs to know they can respond to needs like loneliness. Celebrate the stories of the phone calls and neighborhood drive-throughs. However, people gather, let’s empower and celebrate people building community.
4. Tell way more stories.
Churches feel the limiting connection during this season. Telling stories through social media, emails, and Sunday morning services connect people who have not seen each other. Like celebrating the gatherings, we need to share more stories to give people good news during this season. Help people realize God’s work amid all the uncertainty.
5. Model and Encourage Social Media Interaction.
Church leaders and pastors, you have a voice on social media. Your likes, comments, retweets, stories, shares, and posts make a difference. The more leaders model interaction, the more the church family will engage. When it takes extra work to gather, social media keeps us connected.
We no longer can debate in-person verse digital. They both work together. Also, affirm and encourage any person creating their posts about the church. These individuals have taken the time and shared their space to talk about the church. Don’t miss this opportunity!
What other ideas do you have about long-term planning for a slow reopening? Share them in the comment section below.
Originally published at https://peterenglert.com.