As a design/build/furnish firm for churches, Aspen Group has been helping pastors and their ministry teams navigate the change that comes with a major church facility project. Now, in this era of COVID-19, church leaders are experiencing unprecedented change. Every pastor and church leader will need support navigating the difficult leadership issues during this season, particularly as you think about reentering or reopening your building, and especially as you relaunch your church into a new future. Every church is facing immediate, short-term questions, but there is also a long-term strategy that has to be built out. For churches to live out their mission and vision, it will require leaders who are self-aware, agile, and relentlessly dependent on God.
Are you feeling unsure about reopening your church’s doors in the midst of COVID-19? You’re not alone. According to findings from the third round of a COVID-19 study conducted by Exponential, 28% of pastors surveyed say they still are unsure when they will reopen their church building, and 67% are choosing not to meet in-person even if local guidelines and restrictions permit it.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
This has been a difficult season for every business, organization, and church as we deal with the impacts of both the Coronavirus and the extenuating economic crisis left in its wake. No doubt your church is thinking about next steps and trying to wrestle through what comes next, including the process around reopening your church and how to deal with the financial implications that your church is facing. Getting your church fully online took a lot of work, but now there are 1,001 other decisions that you need to make.
In this current COVID-19 culture, many churches are finding the need to think outside the realm of the normal function of their church facilities in planning how to bring people physically back to church. They're reconfiguring larger worship spaces to conform to smaller gathering standards, and adapting outdoor spaces for prayer walks and as respite for the community. In the following post, Aspen designers, Craig Dobyns, Rob Gordon, Rosie Mitchell, and César Espinoza, share new ways you can use your church parking lot for innovative, safe gathering spaces.
In my role at Aspen, I am typically the first person to field calls and emails from churches that want to discuss a potential building project or facility need. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, my phone stopped ringing, and I received few emails from leaders asking to help solve their ministry space challenges. With churches forced to leave their buildings, everyone was reacting to the crisis and making fast pivots to swiftly adapt the way they were doing church.
In March 2020 when COVID-19 hit the U.S., church leaders faced the unexpected and overwhelming challenge of closing their doors. In a previous blog post, I touched on the three stages of crisis management that disaster response expert and founder of Forge Leadership Consultancy, Simon Barrington, noted:
At Aspen, we often talk about creating places that can be an intentional gift for the community—a beautiful space with no cost of admission where people can find rest. Especially in times of heightened anxiety, spaces that connect people with our Creator and the natural world serve as a respite from stress and frustration, especially in this season of COVID. In the following post, Aspen architects Craig Dobyns, César Espinoza, and Rosie Mitchell share design ideas for ways you can create spaces of rest and respite in your church setting.
Financial leaders in the church are individuals or families who have a high capacity for generosity. Brian Dodd, Director of New Ministry Partnerships for INJOY Stewardship Solutions and prolific blogger on Brian Dodd on Leadership, defines financial leaders as any family that tithes $10,000 or more annually to your church, or, for churches that don’t have givers at this level, it’s the top 10 percent of a church’s annual givers. In the guest post that follows, Dodd shares 10 reasons why pastors should be especially intentional in engaging their financial leaders during the COVID-19 crisis.
It may be a while before we can use our church facilities for large-group gatherings. Nonetheless, there are creative ways to maximize all the square footage in a church, even big spaces that you may not currently be able to use for their intended purpose. For example, one way to adapt large indoor and outdoor areas is to create a prayer walk. Even in quarantine, our attention and focus is pulled away from God. Prayer walks provide a place for solitary reflection and reconnection with God, while keeping people at a safe distance from each other.
Churches are faced with myriad decisions about how to make worship facilities safe and sanitary as they decide on the best timing to reopen for in-person worship and ministry programs. How will you manage traffic flow and seating to keep people socially distanced? Do you have enough hand sanitizer stations strategically placed throughout the building? How will you receive the offering and share communion to avoid spreading COVID? While all of these are significant questions, there's another equally critical one to ask: Are your people ready to return to church?