By Ken Braddy
Many things we do in our churches may be similar or exactly the same as we reopen.
Depending upon our denominations, our ministry contexts, and what our local authorities allow, other decisions will be more unique.
That said, here are seven things to make sure you consider as your form your church’s re-entry plan.
1. How will you move guests from online experiences (worship/Bible study) and into worship and groups on campus—or will you?
Assimilating people has never been a totally easy process. People can take a long time to commit to a group or regular worship attendance.
In our new online world of Bible study and worship, what steps will you take to reach out to people and encourage them to connect on campus?
2. In what other ways will you use Zoom and other online meeting tools now that your church is more acquainted with them?
Have you considered starting or restarting teacher training using an online tool?
It’s convenient, saves people’s time, and allows you to pivot quickly should you need to do some “instant training” when the need arises.
Group leaders are now learning how to use Zoom’s breakout room feature.
3. When adults join an online group, what’s the plan to reduce awkwardness and make them feel welcome?
Would you consider having online “greeters” in groups?
These would be members of the group who are charged with the responsibility of spotting new people in a Zoom meeting, initiating a private conversation with them through the Chat tool, and then introducing them to the group at large during an appropriate time in the Bible study.
4. How will your group leaders take attendance in online groups?
Groups still need to record who is present, because those who are not still need to be contacted.
Guests need to be included in your group’s ministry strategy, and you’ll need some basic information about them.
How do you capture that now that you won’t have a physical card for them to fill out? Will that be done in a follow-up email or phone call?
5. How might your online group leaders take advantage of a Zoom feature like “Breakout Rooms”?
If you haven’t used that feature yet, you might want to take a look.
You can assign people to virtual rooms in which they can respond to a question, or use it to share prayer requests as a subgroup of your larger online group.
No doubt we are going to push Zoom to its limits as we become accustomed to using it. We’ll find new ways of using it that its designers never intended!
6. What does a virtual invitation look like at the end of a worship service?
How will people respond to the gospel if they are not at the church’s worship service?
When we have people in the building but others viewing online, how will we give options to the people sitting in their homes who feel drawn by the Holy Spirit to make a response to the gospel or church membership?
Will they be asked to call a number where a church member or two are standing by to do phone counseling? Will they be asked to email the church so a minister can make a follow-up call?
7. What do we do about Mother’s Day, high school graduation/senior recognition, and other special occasions?
There’s no clear option just yet, but you may be able to do something on campus depending upon your community’s guidelines for allowing churches to meet.
Some churches are holding virtual high school/senior recognition services. Others are pondering how to honor moms on Mother’s Day, but online.
These questions need to be settled very soon.
KEN BRADDY (@kenbraddy) is the director of Sunday School at Lifeway and disciples a group of adults at his church in Shelbyville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including Breathing Life Into Sunday School. He blogs regularly about Sunday school and groups at kenbraddy.com, and is host of The Sunday School Guy podcast.