Reopening ChurchesCommunicating During Coronavirus / COVID-19
Churches went to great lengths to produce their first online Easter services. As the government begins to ease restrictions on social gatherings pastors are now asking, “How is church going to work moving forward?” God has answers for your specific church. He has also raised up Christian leaders and business people to help for such a time as this. We have been meeting with pastors, ministry leaders and consultants about this topic and are happy to share what we have learned.
Most church leadership is exhausted at this point. Before your church ramps up production and logistics for re-opening, don’t miss the opportunity to be still, be quiet and listen to what God is saying to your church. Revelation 2-3 shows God knows each one of our churches very intimately–the good, the bad, the ugly. Use His wisdom to address any foundational issues like clarifying your church’s mission and vision and your discipleship process. If you need help with these we can make a referral to a wonderful team to assist you.
As government restrictions are lifted, you determine it is safe to resume services at your location and get the logistics worked out, begin sharing your target reopen date(s) and time(s) and about precautions like
- staff and volunteers wearing masks
- checking the temperature of all staff and volunteers
- encouraging church members and visitors to wear masks
- posting signage on doors asking sick people to stay home and watch the service online
- propping doors open if weather permits
- social distancing (avoiding handshakes and hugs)
- not handing out bulletins, attendance registers or offering plates
- encouraging online giving
- encouraging video-only communion using elements from home
- hand sanitizer stations
- temporary closure of bathrooms (if necessary)
- cleaning schedule and procedure for the children’s nursery, bathrooms and other high traffic areas
- temporary closure of your coffee cafe
- suspending small classroom activities
Lean towards overcommunicating these things. Get the message out on the top of your website homepage, through your social media channels, through your app if you have one, in email blasts, on phone calls, through small groups, etc. Invite private feedback like questions and concerns. If you need help with this campaign, let us know.
Keep the Video Rolling
Once in-person gatherings resume, continue to post your video service. This will help new audiences who discovered your church because of COVID-19 to stay connected. They may not be local or physically able to attend. They may feel it’s too risky to come back to church just yet. Continuing the video gives you options like asking small groups to safely meet for watch parties to reduce large church gatherings. If COVID-19 does ramp back up in the Fall of 2020 (as predicted) you will already have the video service production in place. We can recommend an affordable church video editing team for your pre-recorded service if running an in-person and video service each week exceeds your capacity.
Consider keeping your video service (or changing it to) a short 30-45 minute, pre-recorded experience. Online audiences have grown accustomed to this format and switching to a live broadcast of in-person services has several drawbacks. It’s much more expensive and harder to produce. Live services are far more likely to have quality issues and technical glitches which can lead people to search for another online church experience. The length of on-location services is not conducive to online attention spans. Keep in mind that online viewers are distracted by things on their devices and in their homes. Many people also feel disconnected watching a pastor speak from a stage to a room full of people.
Whatever you do, don’t stop your online outreach. Make it even more engaging. Avoid using it to simply promote your church brand or announcements for things online-only attendees will feel excluded from. Use online platforms to actually make and grow disciples. Solicit feedback each week to know the spiritual, mental, physical, financial and other needs of your members. Be open to feedback about improving your online church presence.
Research already shows a significant decline in regular church attendance before Coronavirus. Some of your members are never going to come back and attend church every week again. The elderly or people with medical conditions may need to stay home. Others won’t feel safe returning to in-person services for some time. Younger Millennials and Generation Z literally think community is their phone. Embrace online engagement to reach as many as possible instead of expressing frustration over inconsistent attendance.
The Bible warns us about a future time of persecution when meeting together in large numbers will likely be impossible. Think of COVID-19 as a dry run for us to strategically stay connected if we can’t physically be together. Until then, take advantage of a regular day of the week content schedule featuring worship, prayer, teaching, giving, news, etc. We have resources for that as well.
We’re here to help…
Sties Design is a Christian-owned agency that assists churches across the country. We have worked on-staff in large ministries and continue to do church ministry. We understand.
We can help you with free resources, customized solutions that fit your congregation and referrals to trusted, ministry-minded partners.
Contact us or learn more on our church creative agency page.
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