Sutton Turner on How Churches Can Prepare to Reopen

Reopening churches should not be political, but it should be safe. After President Trump’s announcement on May 22nd, many churches are in the process of reopening. Vanderbloemen’s webinar with six church pastors, from 4 states, addressed the critical decisions within reopening their churches. Together, we discussed practical plans, systems, and processes that can help churches move forward after COVID-19. Three panelists represented churches that have already reopened, while three additional panelists are planning to reopen this upcoming weekend and in the coming weeks.

It’s evident that some find hope and comfort in gathering again, while others may experience hesitation and fear. With churches beginning to reopen, lead pastors are facing challenging decisions with their operations and staffing. How will everyday operations look moving forward?

Panelists included:

○     Jeffrey Carlson, Senior Executive Pastor, Christ Church

○     Paul Willis, Executive Pastor of Operations, WoodsEdge Community Church

○     Hayes Howell, Executive Pastor, Lynwood Baptist Church

○     Brian Hummel, Campus Pastor, The Fellowship, Cinco Ranch Campus

○     Brad Flurry, Executive Pastor of Ministries, Kingsland Baptist Church

○     Scott Vander Ploeg, Senior Pastor, Sunlight Community Church Central Campus

Reopening Church: Here’s What’s Happened And What’s Next

Churches are taking time to decide the best way to reopen for their location, and each leader faces challenges and is taking precautions. In efforts to remain in compliance with state guidelines, some churches are choosing to mirror what retail stores and restaurants have been instructed to do upon reopening.

Many churches that have decided to make social distancing feasible are capping worship services at 25% attendance. This allows churches, who have recently reopened, to inform the church community of precautions that promote safety and care while planning to gather again.

In an effort to assess how the church community feels about future gathering, a market-research style conversation was utilized to help leaders gain insight about the approximate numbers of individuals that would show up to gather for in-person worship again.

With every church having a different DNA, different systems, processes, and plans are to be expected. While some leaders shared their plans to gather in their physical buildings, others shared their ideas for outdoor church service. One church planned for an on-the-lawn worship experience by giving members the option of leaving their cars to stand or sit on the lawn or drive-up and stay in their cars. The majority of churches we’ve spoken to are communicating the narrative that masks are not required for their church community, but they are available for those who choose to wear one.

7 Ways to Manage Pre-service Preparations, RSVPs, and Attendance

1. Create a clear plan to manage the size of in-person worship experiences.

2. Employ RSVPs systems to organize an effective plan for social distancing. Here are two RSVP systems mentioned for event registrations:

○     Brushfire

○     Eventbrite

3. Managing registrations will vary for each church. An idea mentioned in our panel was to open registration for 100 people, but leave a margin for approximately 50 people, in case visitors may show up without registering. Other methods that were mentioned:

○     In order to create distance between others, leaders are opening seating for every other row.

○     Removing the first two rows of seats closest to the stage is a practical idea; this provides distance from those on stage while they’re not wearing masks.

○     Schedule pre-registration weekly for services, rather than multiple weekends in advance. This will help navigate the attendance numbers for weekends people do not plan to show up.

4. Consider a back-up plan for an additional location on campus to accommodate for overflow.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Sutton Turner