It has felt liberating to let go of the various covid restrictions on churches, as well as many other areas in our public life, since many restrictions have lifted where I live.
The tendency for many churches may be to go right back to doing what they did pre-covid, leaving behind the new creative ideas they were forced into as they tried to continue doing ministry while respecting the restrictions. This means that there will be some “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”. Some of the creative solutions you came up with to continue to serve your congregation during covid restrictions may be of great value to your church over the long haul. Churches are often slow to introduce new things, but the restrictions required both church leaders and church attenders to be open to try new things because they had to.
Each church has made unique changes to respond to and adopt new realities over the last year and a half. It may be difficult to picture what the church will look like going forward, but those who are willing to learn and adopt some new methods for their future will benefit in the long run.
As I have heard stories from various pastors, I realize there have been many creative adventures that can continue post-covid. Here are some examples:
- Maybe the online option can be continued so that those who are not able to attend on a Sunday can observe from home, or newcomers can check out the church before attending in person.
- One pastor said they had conducted some services outside on their lawn while adhering to covid restrictions. They bought a transmitter so people could even sit in their cars and listen if they chose. Some unchurched people had tuned in, and joined them when they moved back into the building. This creative idea was so well received that they will continue to have monthly “lawn services” throughout the summer.
- One church continues to host Zoom small group meetings because they worked so well for them.
- One children’s ministry volunteer was disappointed that their church no longer requires children to be pre-registered for Sunday School, because this information ensured that there were always enough staff for the number of children attending.
- Some churches purchased thousands of dollars of gift card to local businesses and then dropped them off for the small business owners. They offered to pray for them as well. This was very well received.
- One church began a Facebook prayer group for their town. Community member joined the group. They were amazed when the mayor joined the group, but were thrilled when she submitted prayer requests for community concerns she knew about.
- The church I attend sent little care packages to singles in the church to make sure they knew the church was thinking about them. Many people were struggling with loneliness when quarantined at home, and they knew this could be especially hard for single people.
As you read these examples, you may be surprised at the creativity, or maybe cringe inside – not all ideas will work for all churches. Think through the ideas your church came up with over the past year and keep the ones that worked well, or adapt some for ongoing ministry.
Don’t just revert to the way things have always been done without carefully and prayerfully evaluating the new ideas you came up with, and holding on to the ones that will benefit you long term.
Keep looking up