By Craig Thompson
We’re all beginning to breathe a sigh of relief as it appears the measures are being slowly relaxed across our country. Many churches are worshiping outdoors, some are even beginning to return to indoor worship services.
But experts across the country and the world urge us to be prepared to live with COVID-19 for a number of months.
In fact, if the worst predictions are true (which I’m praying against), then we should assume the possibility of practicing social distancing again in the fall and winter of this year.
How should we prepare now for the second wave of COVID-19 or another future pandemic so that we, as the church, won’t be caught off guard? Here are steps I would urge you to take:
1. Invest in technology.
Our livestream is pretty good today, but the first few weeks it was terrible. We had some serious holes in our technology that kept us from being able to effectively minister to our people.
Many of you experienced the same thing. Don’t let it happen again. Make streaming a priority. Buy new cameras, purchase a new computer, upgrade your internet service.
If you live in a rural area without high speed internet, begin exploring options to produce a video ahead of time and upload it.
2. Build your relational infrastructure.
“Social distancing” is a terrible name for physical distancing. The goal of the church may have to be physical distancing again, but it should never be social distancing.
If your church doesn’t have strong infrastructure to minister through small groups, deacon ministry, or elder care, make sure you’re building that infrastructure now to prepare for the future.
3. Cut spending.
Some of the initial research suggests many churches have fared very well financially through the quarantine phase. Don’t presume upon those blessings.
Deep unemployment will have a trickle-down effect on the church. Cut unnecessary spending today to prepare for hard days tomorrow.
4. Order necessities now.
If there were to be a second wave, what might you need that you don’t have right now? Masks? Soap? Hand sanitizer?
Don’t assume that shortages of today will not persist into the future. Order your necessities now to be used in the future.
5. Equip your people for evangelism.
Let’s plan for the worst. What if you can’t have your annual fall festival or your normal church events during Christmas? How can you equip your people to share the gospel during a fall or winter shutdown?
6. Engage with local hospitals.
One of the greatest frustrations for me during this time has been the way that chaplains, pastors, and family members have been kept away from the bedside of dying people in their last moments.
When the initial surge of COVID-19 begins to fade in your area, consider reaching out to local hospitals to try to navigate a path for spiritual care for those who are most sick during a future pandemic wave.
The coronavirus shutdown caught American churches off guard. We all had to learn on the fly how to do ministry in a different way.
We hope we don’t have to return to the patterns of the spring of 2020 in the future, but there is no reason for another wave of this pandemic to catch us off guard again.
CRAIG THOMPSON (@craig_thompson) is the husband of Angela, father of four, and senior pastor of Malvern Hill Baptist Church in Camden, South Carolina.