Your church campus closed virtually overnight–but it will reopen in phases. This is the simple truth.

Fortunately, the White House has issued guidelines for a phased reopening of the economy. Around the Internet and social media, many have suggested that churches cannot or should not reopen until “Phase 3.”

The reality is that there are things your church can start doing as early as Phase 1! (Hint: it’s not reopening your services, sorry.)

In this week’s live episode of the Church Revitalization Podcast, A.J. and I go phase by phase and walk you through the implications for churches. You can stream the audio below, or you can watch the video version on Facebook or Youtube.

I’ve detailed the highlights of each phase below, but we put together a PDF resource that gives all the details–it’s called the Roadmap to Reopen PDF and it’s just one of the tools included in our Ultimate Reopening Resource Bundle.

Included in the Ultimate Reopening Resource Bundle:

– Ready to Reopen Church Checklist PDF
– Roadmap to Reopen: Phased Guidelines for Churches PDF
– Reimagining Your 2020 Vision Video Training (and notes PDF)
– Reopening Action Plan Template (Excel Spreadsheet)
– Exclusive discount on Strategic Envisioning–Let’s hear an, “AMEN!” for pandemic pricing! 🙂

All of these resources are available for free. Download them here.

Phase 1 Highlights

Your church can benefit in Phase 1 by leveraging the ability to gather small teams again. This means your staff can resume in-person meetings, your leadership can collaborate, and small ministry teams can coordinate to serve your congregation.

You won’t be able to do small groups meetings yet, as it violates the spirit of Phase 1–but leadership-level meetings can occur.

This is why we’re encouraging churches to leverage Phase 1 for a process like Strategic Envisioning. Now is the perfect time to plan and prepare your church to be the healthiest it has ever been when you relaunch in-person services in Phase 2 or 3.

Phase 2 Highlights

Small churches (averaging 100 or fewer) can move back to in-person services if they split into multiple services and make sure that vulnerable members remain home. Do not open children’s ministry, and consider hosting as much ministry outside as the weather permits.

Larger churches need to innovate. In-person services are still off the table. However, you can leverage the 50 person limit to experiment with different kinds of in-person experiences. For example, host small groups in your auditorium. Set up “living rooms” with chairs spaced apart. Note, any in-person experience would require an RSVP to ensure you stay under limits.

Phase 3 Highlights

Normal services can resume. However, this will not look like “back to normal.” Your church will need to place a high value on hygiene. Class sizes for children’s ministry should be smaller. The vulnerable will need to be protected. Finally, it will take a long time for all of your church members and guests to feel safe in public again. Continue to invest time, energy, and resources in your virtual ministries. These are here for the long haul.

To get more information and phase-by-phase suggestions, download the Roadmap to Reopen PDF as part of the Ultimate Reopening Resource Bundle!

Scott Ball is the Director of Services and a Lead Guide with TMG. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott)