This is a guest post from Bob Osborne. Bob serves as Director of Church Health for EFCA West . He is a trusted EFCA leader and friend of the North Central District.
10 Things Church Leaders Need to Think About Before Deciding Whether to Reopen or Continue with Off-Site Church Services
by Bob Osborne, EFCA West
1. Don’t “reopen” because you can, but because you should.
2. Though some business are opening with modified activities and some governmental restrictions on gatherings are easing, the COVID19 infection “curve” has merely flattened – the COVID19 threat has not gone away and there is no vaccine available. How will you handle the consequences of someone getting infected or dying from exposure on your campus? Figure this out before you reopen.
3. Reopen when doing so will reflect the cause of Christ more positively in the community than off-site meetings will do.
4. Reopen when the things you can do during on-line gatherings will be done demonstrably better in person. Visualize your church at 25% capacity with everyone wearing masks and keeping required six-foot separation between households. Imagine a classroom with chairs six-feet apart in all directions. Is that what you want?
5. Don’t reopen until you have a good way to deal with those that won’t wear a mask, won’t keep social distance, have a cough, or are elderly or infirm. When that person walks in, what are you going to do? Enforce the rules? Jeopardize the rest of the flock?
6. Reopening or staying off-campus should never be a political statement or decision – reopening decisions should be based upon obedience to Christ including loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, Biblical submission to governing authorities, enhancing our ability to evangelize people around us who need to follow Christ, and a sincere care for the welfare of those in the church entrusted to our care and leadership.
7. The decision to reopen or stay off campus should never be made based upon what other churches are doing or saying. There is no prize for being among the first churches to reopen their doors.
8. Don’t make a decision to open or remain off campus based upon popular opinion. Anyone can lead when everything is going well. The true test of leadership is how our values and integrity impact our actions when things are difficult. Don’t fail this test.
9. Recognize there are differences between megachurches, small churches, and every size and location between. Grant grace to church leaders that make a decision that may be wise in their context but would be unwise in your own. We are not competing with one another.
10. EFCA West urges member churches to be slow to regather rather than to rush into it. We cannot undo exposures to infectious diseases. We cannot raise the dead. We encourage churches to comply with the public health orders in effect in their area.
Please reach out to anyone on our NCD staff if you would like to discuss these things or need perspective on reopening and your local congregation.