This week, Amy Fenton, Orange Specialist and Executive Director of Orange VBS, joins hosts Mike, Gina, and Kellen in the second part of a discussion around key questions and ideas for churches to consider as Covid-19 restrictions begin lifting.
Let’s continue to take on the burning question we’re all asking—
What will re-entry look like?
Mike: We need to lean into state and local guidelines. You want to be seen as a church that is FOR your community. Don’t rush it. But let’s assume we’ve set a date and we are going to start gathering.
What are some guidelines from your church and conversations you’ve had with other churches?
Amy: I’m encouraging people to think about how you will mandate the rules for limiting gathering size. If you run 500, how do you ensure 100 per service? Some will be doing an RSVP system. How do you control that?
Gina: How do you say “no” to someone who turns up without RSVPing? We need a plan.
Kellen: RSVPing for church is so weird. The church is for everyone – until there’s a pandemic.
As a young leader, it’s challenging and freeing to figure this out. For older leaders, this may be very intimidating.
Kellen’s getting married soon. (Cue all the congratulations!) They had a 200 person planned, but pared it down to three individual services of ten people each.
If you have one or a few services, you may need to add. Do services different days of the week. This won’t be the same moving forward.
The more creative we can become, it will benefit the church as a whole.
Gina: Let’s leave behind the way we have measured success in the past. What does success look like online? How do we redefine success for weekly services?
Kellen: If you strip away everything from worship to message to greeters, etc., the reason we jumped into serving was because we want people to come to Christ and live out their unique purpose. What was your original purpose for doing this?
The heart of it is that we want to reach people and let them know they are loved and valued by God.
Amy: It makes us take a step back and ask “what is the win? Is it just to open the doors?”
What if we do in-home community groups at homes, like in the Book of Acts?
Is it a combination of homes and church or parks? It doesn’t just have to be just the service time painted on the sign outside your church
Gina: What do you want to hold onto? I’ve talked to ministry leaders who have a date in view. The strategy right now is to start within small groups. Then they want to resource people to meet in homes and have service watch parties.
Nearly every day in my neighborhood there has been a parade to celebrate a child’s birthday. They are painting signs and driving by people’s houses and honking horns. Imagine the connections that are happening. They are far more because we are all at home. Walking dogs and having porch conversations. I can leverage these relationships to invite to a watch party in my home.
Mike: Whatever the other side of this looks like will require work and planning. But let’s lean into whatever is already happening in neighborhoods. Let’s help and equip you to build community in your neighborhood.
There’s so much work to getting people back in the building. We could put time and energy into rethinking the model.
Gina: Where’s the momentum? It’s not inside a church building right now. Re-opening requires creating momentum that doesn’t exist. Let’s lean into the momentum in neighborhoods.
Kellen: For children’s ministry, the number one thing kids will want is something familiar. The new norm simply needs to be consistent. If our new norm is Zoom calls, keep it consistent.
For me, all this change has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve been in full time ministry mode for 15 years. I don’t remember a Sunday I wasn’t at a church doing something. I don’t have to wake up at 4 a.m. now on Sunday. But I can designate more times during the week to be creative like making breakfast Saturday with a devotion on YouTube and reading aloud children’s books online.
Mike: There may be children’s ministry leaders who don’t have a choice because senior leadership has decided to open. But they can’t do children’s ministry yet – so how do you continue to resources parents and families?
Amy: Be careful about being competitive. In a recent post on Facebook, a leader talked about opening in a few weeks. But they only have 95 people and 5 kids.
Lean into your community and find what works for your building, your people, your kids, your volunteers.
Mike: Don’t be competitive, and be careful not to be judgmental about churches that do open earlier.
Mikes shares three questions for every ministry leader to consider moving ahead.
1. What are some things that we need to walk away from in ministry?
Gina: I want to leave behind the thinking that I can’t start something unless I can do it large scale. The things I have found most meaningful in this season is the small things. That one person I didn’t expect who called to see how I’m doing.
Amy: I hope we walk away from feeling isolated in ministry. I see too many people in kidmin who develop the “poor me” syndrome. They try to do it all themselves. It’s a dangerous place to be. We can’t do this alone. Elevate and lean into the power of volunteers.
Kellen: Golden calf traditions. Just because you have always been doing it doesn’t mean you have to. You don’t have to do anything but preach the Gospel.
Mike: As an introvert, we need to do away with the meet and greet in Jesus’ name.
2. What are some things we need to hold onto or even elevate?
Gina: We have got to hang onto connection.
Our church is not closed; just the building is not available right now.
People connecting with people. SGLs connecting with kids and building a meaningful relationship with parents.
A leader told me: When we start meeting together, I’m committed to building the structure to support the connection I’m seeing.
Amy: I second Gina. But also, I think honoring our volunteers more. Pre-Covid people probably spent more time and energy on stage décor than pouring into volunteers. Those volunteers are so key.
Kellen: Scrappy Doo – “Puppy power!” We gotta yell “People power!” There’s power in people!
We need to hold onto remembering that it’s the families we want to win. We don’t need to provide more resources; we need to connect with families so they feel like they have a support system and can win at home.
Mike: Hold onto the mission. The mission never changes, but the strategy and vision do.
3. Where do we need to take new ground?
Gina: We’re seeing momentum in people connecting with people in communities. How can we pour gasoline on that?
Amy: Virtual connection is amazing for kids who cannot be present every weekend. Keep building on that.
Gina: Imagine transitioning a group of seniors who are accustomed to meeting that way.
Kellen: It’s totally related to where you’re at. Tap into your creativity for your context. Don’t worry about producing it on a mass scale.
Mike: The new ground is going to show itself naturally and intuitively. It may look different, but fuel that.
As you consider steps for re-opening your church, make sure to ask your ministry team these three questions:
- What are some things that we need to walk away from in ministry?
- What are some things we need to hold onto or even elevate?
- Where do we need to take new ground?