7 Strategic Questions Churches Need to Ask About Reopening

As your community looks at reopening and moving beyond this current phase of Coronavirus, you are probably asking all kinds of similar questions. What will be the next normal? 


What will need to happen so our people will invite their friends again after reopening? 

Churches that have a robust inviting culture are the ones that are thriving. 

Before this pandemic, 94% of all churches across the country were losing ground against the growth of the communities they’re in. The 6% that were growing systematically inspired and equipped their people to invite friends and family to church. 

As we reemerge into the next normal, we need to work even harder on encouraging, training and equipping our people to invite their friends to our in-person and online experiences. Church online has made it easier for people to comment and share, but how can we translate that to what we’re experiencing going forward? 

Previously, people might’ve been nervous to invite friends to come to your church simply because it was a strange experience. Now, the idea of inviting a friend to some sort of large group gathering, even if it’s 100 or 200 or 300 people, may be accompanied by an added stigma. 

What do we need to do to begin to train our people on how to do that?

How will people be inspired to invite their friends in this emotional climate?

In a world where people wear face masks to pick snacks at the convenience store around the corner, how can we help our people make inviting a normal thing to do?

How should our team prepare for a second wave of COVID-19? 

One of the things that’s fairly clear as you read the research and commentary around COVID-19 is that no one can really predict what’s going to happen next. However, there is an undercurrent of conversation about a possible second wave of COVID-19 this fall. This summer, our churches are going to face somewhat of a respite as we’ll be able to do some version of our online and offline experiences. It would be prudent for us to begin planning now for what happens when we find ourselves in a second lockdown in the coming months. None of us had a chance to prepare for the first one, but we have an opportunity to prepare beforehand for the second lockdown that might be just a few months away. 

What did we learn about these last few months to prepare us for a time in the future we find ourselves locked down in a similar scenario? This planning would be valuable for you to wrestle through as there’s a high likelihood of some sort of second wave in the future, or there may well be another similar virus in the years to come. Taking time to capture your learnings from these months and building a plan for reopening will help us as we move into the next normal.

What place will communications take on our senior leadership team? 

It’s been fascinating to watch churches across the country who haven’t invested time, effort, energy, or leadership into communications as a strategic discipline pivot and double down on that in this season. 

I hope and pray that as we look to reopening, the communications leadership within your church will take a place on the senior leadership team going forward. 

It’s been encouraging to see church leaders, who just a few months ago, spoke with a certain amount of pride that they weren’t on Facebook or any social media platform, jump onto those platforms and learn how to use those tools to push their ministry forward.

A part of the next normal will mean that all of us need to think carefully about how we engage on social media platforms and focus our internal/external communication plans

Gone are the days where we can just rely on “swimming in the lobby” to ensure that people know what’s happening in our church. We will be faced with a season where people will be both online, at home, and in person attending our churches. We need to work hard in order to ensure that our communication plans push our ministries forward. That’s going to require a senior leadership’s focus on communications going forward. 

Going forward, Communication Directors that help churches organize and roll out effective communication strategy will increasingly have a seat at the senior leadership table of prevailing churches.

How do we show we’re for our communities rather than just asking them to come to our next in person event? 

As we look forward to communicating to our communities about “reopening our services” and inviting people to come back to our buildings, I would like to caution that it is important to build a plan that clearly shows that we’re not just interested in people coming to our events; instead, we’re interested in serving the communities we’re in.

All of our communities have been ravaged by COVID-19. We’re dealing with high levels of unemployment and stress that we haven’t seen in a generation. If we callously jump up and down and talk about how great our thing is, rather than frame it in understanding what we’re doing and how it makes a difference to the people in our community, it is clear that we will sound tone deaf to the communities we serve.

The church has never been about getting people to attend buildings. 

Church has always been about serving the community. My strong encouragement is that you look at visible ways to be the loving hands & feet of Jesus in these days as we transition into the next normal, after reopening. 

Rather than mechanically asking people to come to our thing, let’s step outside our comfort zones to find ways of showing that we can love our communities going forward.


This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Rich Birch
Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at UnSeminary.com and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications.