The past few weeks have been among the most unique and innovative weeks for the church in the modern-day. Churches all over the globe went from having in-person services and events to an entirely digital experience.
If we’re honest, it shook some of our churches to the core as we had to quickly learn new technology and learn a new way of reaching people. For others, it meant a simple shift in learning to implement new and exciting ways to reach people online. For all of us, though, we have had to trust God to give us the grace we need to further His church and share His hope to the world.
Digital church has become our new norm, but what do we do when the COVID-19 pandemic begins to dwindle, and we can resume our regularly scheduled programming? This shift will not be an overnight thing, and there will surely be a gradual transition to church as we know it, but regardless, we need to have a game plan in place for relaunching after COVID-19.
When your church can physically meet again, this doesn’t mean you should just throw out the digital church altogether. During the transition period back to large group gatherings, there will likely be some who are still seeking to take precautions for their health and the health of others. They may not attend your service, but they will more than likely attend your digital service.
Even when this crisis is long past us, digital church should absolutely remain. A staggering 49% of churches have experienced growth during the current global pandemic - growth will undoubtedly continue online even when the pandemic has passed.
Giving people access to digital service is vital because it allows those who would otherwise never step foot in a church full access to your service and to the message of Jesus.
We don’t quite know what the transition period is going to look like in various parts of the country, and it will really depend on your individual community. A way that you can help out your community who wants to make the return to physical church is by implementing proper precautions.
This means maintaining clean practices at your church across the board. Make sure hand sanitizer is readily available, the kid’s ministry is cleaned well, and other areas of the church are sanitized too. You can even opt to provide masks for visitors and continue to practice social distancing if possible. Looking out for the health and well-being of all of your members and visitors should be a top priority and is one of the best ways we can love our community.
Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, your servant leaders and volunteers probably haven’t been serving nearly as much as they usually would. On the other hand, your production and creative team members may be pretty exhausted at this point after dedicating their time to the digital church switch.
Whichever category your leaders fall under, they are probably pretty antsy to get back to physical services and be able to serve again. This is a great time to get your volunteers on board for this upcoming season as a church. Before the relaunch, consider hosting a team rally where your pastors can cast vision to the team and prepare them for a relaunch. Also remember, if you choose to continue streaming digital church, you will need to build your teams to accommodate this.
During the crisis, your church’s sermons have probably been speaking directly into the crisis and how we can combat fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. When the crisis is over, people will still be looking for the same message: the hope that is found in Jesus.
Before your official relaunch, you can build some anticipation for your next series. Utilize avenues of social media to get the word out and even invest in a quality sermon bumper video. Make sure to be aware of the current cultural climate when it comes to choosing this sermon content too!
Church online has created a way for new guests and visitors to take a glance into what your church is like without stepping foot in your building. When relaunching, you want to keep these people at the top of mind.
Think about it - people your community has been inviting for months, and even years have finally taken the first step and viewed your church online. Now that they know what you’re all about, they may want to check your church out by physically attending.
Take the initiative and send a personal invite to these guests. Make them feel welcome and known and that although they were one of your many online viewers, they were seen. You can send them a personal message, email, or even send them a first-time guest gift with an invite to join you at your church building when it relaunches.
Once we go through the transition back to life as we used to know it and large-scale gatherings are permitted again, this is the perfect opportunity to throw a huge, relaunch party! Luckily, summer is right around the corner, and it lends the ideal opportunity to have an incredible shindig.
Take some time to plan out this relaunch event with your team. Have community members bring food, plan a worship setlist, even rent a dunk tank - the possibilities are endless!
This party will serve to both help your community reconnect post-quarantine and also as an outreach event for new guests and the local community.
By now, we are all longing to be with our church family once again in our buildings. When approaching life post-COVID-19, we need to remember that things may not go back to how they were before the pandemic. The church is entering a new normal. A normal that is marked by an emphasis on our digital presence and deeper connections in our communities.
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