Special thanks to David Nelms of The Timothy Institute and Jimmy Carroll and Paul Crouthamel of Journey Church in Raleigh, NC, for sharing thought-provoking advice and insights on the factors that churches should consider as we enter another new phase of ministry.
There are many factors for you and your leadership team to consider as you think about reopening your doors. Remember that different guidelines and restrictions apply to different localities. Gather your leadership team and carefully go through the possible scenarios. Reopening is not going to be as simple as flipping a switch. Have the right expectations.
- Research the guidelines set by your local and state governments. Pay attention to the ever-changing news. What applies to one church may not apply to yours.
- Do the math! Calculate the square footage of your facilities and how many people you are allowed to have per square foot (according to your local guidelines). Pay special attention to aspects of your ministry like children’s ministry that will be heavily impacted. If you can only have x amount of people in your sanctuary and those parents are also bringing kids, how many people can actually participate in your service? Is it just a few families that can participate in the service? Will you have to turn people away?
- Ask the right questions. Are you putting people at risk by opening your doors? Think about the demographic of your church. How do you need to protect those people?
- Consider how mandatory masks and gloves will impact your services. Do you have the proper disinfecting and sanitizing supplies to accommodate your gatherings?
- Evaluate any legal/insurance issues that may arise. If you defy local officials’ recommendations that churches not open and someone’s illness gets traced back to your church, you may be held liable with no insurance to fall back on.
Contextualize these questions to your situation. Ultimately, do not be in a hurry to reopen. Do not use your large gatherings as an excuse to refuse to grow in other areas. Think about the things you have implemented this last month and a half and how those things have helped you deepen your ministry. Will those new ministry avenues stay in place even as you open back up?
- Take advantage of this opportunity to intimately disciple people. Large churches in particular will not be able to meet for a significant period of time so minister to people in other ways.
- Do not be afraid of criticism. You will probably receive complaints that you reopened too early and that you reopened too late. Pray for wisdom and seek wise counsel so that you and your team can best serve your church and community.
- Stay in constant communication with your leadership team. Your plans should continue to evolve and change as you gather more information.