The church I pastor, New Song Church in Oceanside, CA is re-opening with outdoor services this summer.
This video clip is from our first outdoor service on May 31st.
Some people brought their lawn chairs; others stayed in their cars; two families brought their dogs! They honked their clapping. Many still watched the online service from home. It was a great day.
And our first step in re-opening.
Leading a church is all learning and experimenting right now, isn’t it?
Here are five realities that might be helpful to consider as your church moves toward reopening:
1. Getting together or staying separated is a volatile issue.
No matter how you reopen, you will have people who are mad at you.
2. During this time, everyone has been conditioned to fear close contact.
Every time we take a step back towards normal contact, most people experience some anxiety at first, and then adapt quickly.
Every step will bring resistance, then acceptance.
3. There will be no “Grand Re-openings.”
42% of Americans say they plan to return to church in about 3 months, and 42% say they don’t plan to return to church for about a year.
Churches won’t open up and fill up all at once.
Some people have concerns about gathering at all. They will stay online until a vaccine is available and tested.
Some people are eager to gather, but have concerns about their health, or the health of their loved ones, so they will be willing to gather for outdoor services.
Some people have little or no concern, and will come to any gathering.
I believe there will be phased re-openings that take a year or more.
- Start with an outdoor service, where people can gather, but distanced, while others can worship from next to or inside their cars.
- Then move to a socially-distanced indoor service.
- Once a vaccine comes out, we will develop a “new normal” of gathering close together, but it may not look like church services of our past.
4. This is a crisis.
No one can foresee what will happen next, so I, and everyone else will be wrong on almost everything.
Therefore, we must stay flexible and continue to adapt and pray.
5. Some predict the COVID crisis will accelerate the rise of the de-churching of America.
They say that most churches can expect a 20-25% drop in attendance once “new normal” is achieved.
We must pray against this! God’s work and our prayers could redeem this crisis with a great revival!