COVID is like a bad headache that just won’t go away. Regardless of your opinion on why people have headaches, how to prevent headaches or how to properly treat headaches, one reality remains. We have a collective headache. Right about the time church leadership couldn’t get any harder; it got harder.
About half of churches that I keep up with are back on-site and half are still exclusively on-line. Some churches are reopening live this week, even as others are closing and going back to on-line only. The playing field changes by the minute. Each city and state has its own unique dynamics.
The de-facto mission of many churches is survival from day to day. Reports of staff and members getting sick, being tested and waiting for results takes energy and diverts energy from other things…like the mission.
Somehow churches need to get back on offense rather than dodging bullets. The defense has been on the field too long and is exhausted. It is time to bring out the offense!
Here is a game plan!
1) Bring open ended things to close. All of them. Don’t give Satan footholds.
2) Over communicate everything.
3) Have clear contingency plans with clear triggers. “What are we going to do if…?”
4) Keep prayer ministries active and engaged. At least some of this is spiritual and not medical.
5) Push your safety guidelines. Be clear about what you expect.
6) Make sure you are two deep on the bench…everywhere. Including preacher and song leader.
7) Publicly demonstrate calm, competence and walk leadership lock step. Mixed messages breed mania and confusion.
8) Offer everything from worship to communication on multiple platforms.
9) Be the arrow and not the target. Someone WILL get COVID. Be proactive, not reactive.
10) Be prepared to answer the mail. Regardless of what you do, there will be consequences. Make sure you have a clear rationale for your actions.
To sum it up; tell people what you are going to do to keep them safe, do what you told them and let them decide how to access what you have to offer.
Here is the deal: None of us can eradicate risk. We need to get the defense off the field. All we can do is have a reasonable plan for managing it and start running the offense.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois