As we all know, the conversations surrounding COVID-19 are constantly changing. This past week, many of the conversations online have shifted towards developing a strategy for reopening our buildings, with many smaller churches seeing that as a possibility in the (fairly) near future.
As Karl Vaters shared a couple weeks back, the season that's ahead will look different for every church based on their local orders and their specific context.
For Episode 35, Austin and I take some time to talk through some of what we're seeing from churches and walk through 6 principles for leaders to consider as they develop their strategy and plan for eventually reopening. My great fear is that as churches see the "light" of returning, the comfort of getting closer to normal will overtake the progress that could be made during this time.
Here are the 6 things we walk through in this episode:
Most importantly, work closely with your local government. Every context is different. This is an opportunity for us to communicate care and integrity to our community through partnership with local government leaders.
Ask: Why are you reopening? If it's just to gather again to get back to gathering, it might be time to rediscover your mission. Don't let outward pressures be the foundation of your leadership.
Don't throw away the progress you've made during this season. All of our churches have tried things we've never tried before during this time, and a lot of us have discovered things that are really effective. Let's keep those things around and let go of the things that weren't as effective previously.
Consider waiting to reopen until you can do full-blown kids' ministry. You'll have to listen to the episode to hear our conversation around this one, but it comes down to keeping our mission top of mind as we consider gathering again.
Don't expect your volunteers to just be ready to support whatever you decide. We have to respect the caution and perspectives of our volunteers during this time. The earlier you decide to reopen, the more volunteers that will likely be required to manage the new processes we'll have to have in place.
Over-communicate to your people. There's a lot of confusion and uncertainty right now. Constantly be sharing the WHAT and the WHY behind your plan and decision to your people. There will be many that struggle with your decisions, and it's important to keep casting that vision for the direction of the ministry.
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Dale is the Executive Director here at 95Network and the author of Stalled: Hope and Help for Pastors Who Thought They'd Be There By Now. He has been in ministry for 40 years and is dedicated to helping small and mid-size churches get healthy. Dale has served in nearly every role of church leadership (except Worship Pastor), and has had a wide variety of coaching and consulting experience. He and his wife Gina have been married almost 40 years and live in Greenville, SC.