Gathering Again: Thinking Through Re-opening Church

As a pastor, the past month and a half has been a very interesting time. I’ve learned to livestream, regularly preached at a camera lens, mastered the art of Zoom, and fought for consistency and calm in the midst of anxiety. As much as we hate the term, we’ve all entered a “new normal.” And the newest normal is, without a doubt, the increasingly common angst and desire to return to the “old normal.”

Now, as states throughout the country begin to ease restrictions on social distancing, re-open businesses, and seek to return to normal, church leaders especially are wrestling with what it looks like to “re-open” church. In our own town, where there has only been one confirmed case of COVID-19, several smaller churches never closed. Others have begun meeting prior to the state giving the green light. There are so many questions as this takes place, and there are absolutely no easy answers. In every group of people, a broad spectrum of opinion likely exists.

So how do church leaders walk through re-opening (or not) in a way that honors and obeys God, loves people, and leads followers of Jesus to live out their faith in the midst of ever-changing circumstances? How do we strengthen the faith of the fearful, and focus the love of those who are given to conspiracy theories?

I’m not sure I have the answers, but I have gathered a number of resources to help our leaders think through these decisions in the coming weeks and months.

When Should We Practice Civil Disobedience?  A helpful, well-argued, clear, and timely article for everyone, but especially for church leaders, as we consider what gathering might look like in the coming weeks and months. The next question, though, is what should it look like when we are given the green light to gather again?

Forsaking the Assembly?  A thoughtful evaluation of Hebrews 10:25 in light of our current pandemic situation. Is it sinful not to meet together, in light of this verse?

How to Reopen a Church Safely  A helpful guide from an epidemiologist on how churches should phase in re-opening during the COVID-19 crisis. Church leaders all over are wrestling through this question right now, and I found this a helpful resource for me as a pastor and our elders as we seek to move forward while taking all factors into account.

Ministry Grid: Online Training  This is a free training resource form Lifeway for pastors and church leaders to think through and strategize church life in the coming weeks and months.

9Marks: Pastors Thinking Through Re-Opening Again This is a helpful conversation between Jonathan Leeman and Michael Lawrence.

CDC Guidance on Churches Re-Opening Joe Carter’s summary and thoughts on CDC guidance for churches.

Navigating Opposing Opinions  If COVID-19 has done one thing, it’s divided people. Not that we need much help in that, but in the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen division increasing between believers around this issue. This article is helpful in thinking through navigating through this time relationally: with grace.






Published by Mike Phay

Husband. Father. Pastor. Teacher.

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