Relaunching Church in a COVID World
The Coronavirus pandemic has stretched every church to find new ways to fulfill its mission to be the Body of Christ. The church never was the building. It is and always has been people who make up the church. During this season of social distancing, congregations are learning anew what it means to be the Church.
Month after month, churches have become increasingly adept at worshiping online and conducting small groups and children’s ministry via social media and video platforms. As the urgency of trying to figure out all the ways to shepherd our congregations virtually starts to stabilize and give way to hybrid forms of gathering—welcome to the era of phygital church!—pastors are shifting their attention to new concerns—namely, how can we be ready for the day when we’re able to return to our church buildings at full capacity. We want you to be ready!
Ready to make 2021 your church's best year? Our guide can help.
Throughout the past year, churches have been allowed to reopen their doors for in-person gathering, though with fluctuating constraints on group gathering sizes and social distancing.(Here's help on how to adapt your ministry space for phased-in gathering sizes.)
Returning to church will likely be more of a transitional process versus a single opening day, and depending on state and city decisions, churches will reopen at different times and in different ways. Gathering sizes may be restricted to small groups initially and increase gradually. It could be a long time before we see large-scale, in-person gatherings.
The Coronavirus has changed us as a society. Some things will remain the same—the unchanging Truth of the Gospel, of course. But much will be different—and should change—because of what we’re experiencing and learning as a result of the pandemic.
A Framework for Fresh Eyes
Churches have a unique window of opportunity to reflect on who they are as a congregation and what changes they may want to make as they prepare to relaunch church once this COVID crisis has subsided. We want to help churches use their fresh eyes, which only last for a short time, to envision a new future for this next season of ministry.
Over the years, we’ve developed a framework that we use to guide churches in order to achieve maximum ministry impact, and we call it Alignment.
Alignment is the intersection of four key aspects of church life: culture, leadership, ministry, and facilities. When churches are in alignment in these four areas, they’re able to operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
4 Pillars of Alignment
Culture is the first pillar of Alignment. Before we guide a church into decisions about their facility, we first take them through a process of discerning culture. What trends and shifts are happening in the world that impacts the way people think about their faith and church? How do you describe your own church’s culture?
Leadership is the second pillar of Alignment. What kind of leaders does your church need to shepherd your congregation? Are there any unique leadership roles needed to serve a particular ministry calling on your church?
Ministry is the third aspect of Alignment. What kinds of ministry programs is your church called to provide, especially in a post-COVID culture?
Facilities is the final and fourth pillar of Alignment. Do you have the right kind of ministry space to fulfill your unique mission and vision as a church? Will new ways of gathering in person require new types of ministry space?
In our downloadable PDF, “Key Questions to Prepare for a New Season of Ministry,” we guide you through a series of questions under each of these pillars. It’s a great place to start to wrestle through important questions with your team about who you are as a church and how you’ll use your church facility as a tool to live out your unique mission and vision.
Looking to a Hopeful Future
As a team, and in light of the COVID-19 crisis, we are asking ourselves new questions. We know that ministry space—people’s perceptions of it, churches’ use of it, and the community's connection to it—will change. We know proactive church leaders are asking questions too. We hope you'll join us in exploring some of these questions together.
As church leader Ed Stetzer said, “The church has left the building, and that may be the gift God gives us in the midst of this crisis.” When your church is free to relaunch after COVID-19 has subsided, what form will it take? Will it be business as usual (spoiler: that model wasn’t working very well for most churches), or will you use this opportunity to reset as a Body and seek God’s wisdom in how you might better reach people with the Gospel and saving power of Jesus Christ?