As we entered the new decade on Jan. 1, 2020, I doubt anyone expected that within the next 90 days most of our weekend worship gatherings would be halted and moved online. Who could have imagined an Easter where we would gather with our families in front of computer screens, mobile phones and smart TVs instead of celebrating our risen King in our church buildings? What an unusual moment in time we find ourselves in.
While each of us eagerly anticipates the lifting or relaxing of the stay-at-home order by our governor, believers find themselves desperately missing their church gatherings. While lifting the order will open our church doors, how will churches function in the aftermath of COVID-19? There are questions and conversations that pastors and church leaders should probably be having now. Following are three big questions that should be part of these conversations.
How will we deal with restrictions on mass gatherings?
A lifting of the stay-at-home order will be exciting news for all of us, but will likely still include some form of limits on mass gatherings and continued social distancing measures. We don’t know what those limits may be, but what will your church do if the gathering limit is 50? Or 100? What will large churches do to honor these gathering limitations?
While many churches hosted multiple worship services prior to COVID-19, this will no doubt become a necessity for most in the near future. Questions to consider might be:
- What times will our worship gatherings be held?
- How might we strategically stagger attendance to ensure certain services (such as 11 a.m.) do not exceed the limits?
- How does a multiple-service plan affect our children’s ministry?
While the tragedy of COVID-19 has been devastating, it has also been a time of learning how to be the church in difficult times.
How will we create a safe and sanitary environment?
Sanitation thoughts for the church post-COVID-19 will most likely never be the same. Prior to the coronavirus, thoughts of church sanitation were much different than they will be afterward. Now is the time to begin considering:
- Weekly sanitation of your building.
- Establishing sanitation stations that include hand sanitizer.
- Having a plan for social-distancing procedures for seating and classrooms.
Churches will need a plan for regular and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting of their facilities. Helpful guidelines have been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What did we learn?
COVID-19 has caused churches to wrestle with many issues they might not have imagined before.. Questions like: How do we do digital church? How can we activate our small groups and Sunday Schools online? How does the church “meet” when we literally cannot meet together? How does the church minister to the needs of those who are high-risk?
COVID-19 also pressed our churches to figure out what was essential. The church was forced to pivot and adapt multiple times during the crisis. There were undoubtedly different solutions to the many issues your church encountered. Were your solutions just for the crisis, or do they actually make the church better? How do we continue the things that make your church better when the stay-at-home order is lifted? What things were you doing before COVID-19 that were not missed during the crisis? Maybe there are some conversations your leadership needs to have coming out of the crisis.
The window for having these conversations is open. While the tragedy of COVID-19 has been devastating, it has also been a time of learning how to be the church in difficult times. Now is the time to begin establishing your re-entry plan for your weekly gatherings.