This year has been a challenge for churches on multiple levels. Churches have had to change how service is delivered to members, how to sanitize effectively to kill a pandemic virus, how to adapt budgets for changing needs, and the list goes on.
We are now into the 9th month of this pandemic. Church members have learned to go to church via technology. Many of these members are at high risk for the virus, so virtual access to the local church allows them to enjoy a church service in a safe environment.
However, many members have continued to utilize the virtual church because they don’t have an incentive to return. Church members seem to fall into two different camps.
The first camp is those members who believe churches should be open with a minimal requirement to follow CDC guidelines. For this group, a church that imposes strict guidelines for masks and social distancing is not worth the effort. They would prefer to stay home than be held to standards that they don’t agree with.
The second group is the opposite. They would like churches to impose strict guidelines and fear that a maskless church service would harm their family. They would prefer to stay at home than to take unnecessary health risks. Church leaders are grappling with this and have had to deal with the difficult reality that you simply can’t make everyone happy.
So How Do You Get Church Members Back In The Door?
- Follow CDC Safety Guidelines
The cooler weather has resulted in the predicted uptick in COVID cases. This fact scares people. Be smart and follow the CDC guidelines to ensure that your church is as safe as possible. Section off the auditorium for safe distancing, supply masks at the door if someone shows up without one, learn to sanitize all surfaces in between services.
- Communicate What You Are Doing
You can never communicate too much. Let members know what you are doing to keep them safe. Tell them, then tell them again. Share in detail the measures your team is taking to sanitize the church and ensure the safety of their family. Let them know that you may require a mask to enter and will supply one if they forget theirs. Notify them that there will be plenty of social distancing space to help them feel comfortable in an auditorium with other people.
- Encourage High-Risk People To Stay Home
It is difficult to tell people to stay home when all you want is to have your members back together. However, you do want the most vulnerable to be safe. Encourage your high-risk members to continue watching online – at least until the pandemic subsides. Many of the people who fall into this high-risk group are scared. This fear has resulted in isolation. And isolation can result in mental health issues. Support this vulnerable group by reaching out to them and letting them know that they have not been forgotten. Utilize volunteers to drop off food, inspirational books, or other materials to encourage these members and let them know they are loved.
- Create A Phone Tree
Let’s be real. There is a population of members who simply got lazy this year. They have taken advantage of the lockdown to watch church online. This group should be back but has chosen not to. Create a phone tree and start calling these folks. Don’t be annoying, just show them love. Call and ask how they are doing, how they have fared the pandemic, and if they have any concerns about returning to a church service. This simple step may give you the opportunity to explain safety protocol and the measures the church is taking to ensure everyone stays safe. This conversation may also shed light on other reasons someone might have for not returning. Use what you learn and work to address any objections to returning to a church building.
- Offer An Incentive To Return
This year will be one to remember. Get creative and offer something tangible for members who come to church. For instance, you can order some custom masks with your church logo or a catchphrase on it. Or give members a t-shirt with a catchphrase about the pandemic. Be creative and make it fun. Schedule a day when members will receive a gift when they attend. The goal is to get them back in the door and demonstrate that they are welcome, safe, and you are glad to see them!
Don’t Be Discouraged!
It’s difficult to not be discouraged when you are seeing half of your members show up for a church service. Try to remember that this too shall pass and things will eventually get back to normal.
The high-risk members will soon feel safe again, the lazy members will again feel prompted to get up and go to church, and those who are in fear will eventually regain confidence.
In the meantime, continue to offer both streaming and live services. Reach out to the high-risk members, communicate to those in fear, and offer an incentive to return and you may just see your weekly numbers increase!
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9
This article is provided by Smart Church Management.