Safely resuming physical gatherings with the help of technology

By Bob Pritchett

As our nation moves toward re-opening, church leaders are now tasked with the consideration of whether it is safe to resume in-person gatherings.

It’s unlikely that any parts of our former lives, including the way we did church, will ever truly be the same again. So as we begin to re-open and adapt to a new normal, now is an excellent time to consider safer and even more advanced and cost-effective ways to do church.

While we certainly should not rush to re-open the doors of the church until the curve flattens, leaders need to begin now to consider the paramount and practical ways their churches can cut down on physical materials.

Small changes can make a big difference, such as:

  • Using slides instead of hymnals. Many churches have already replaced hymnals with slides. Running slides has a smaller initial investment, and allows churches to add new songs. While hymnals are valuable, people may be reluctant to handle hymnals and other shared physical items. So until sickness subsides, stick with slides.
  • Taking your connection cards and bulletins online. Many churches have greeters hold doors open and hand out bulletins and/or connection cards. Digitally distributing bulletins and connection cards give you the ability to connect with visitors and attendees without spreading anything besides God’s love.
  • Asking your givers to contribute online. Allowing people to give from their phones (or any mobile device, for that matter) means you don’t have to handle a piece of paper—cash or check. Plus, mobile giving helps people be more consistent in their giving.
  • Opening God’s Word together via phones. If your church sets out hard copies of the Bible for people to use, consider sharing your screen instead. Using on-screen Bible options, people can follow along with you in Scripture without touching anything.

In addition to taking materials online, groups can continue to go virtual through several different fun, creative avenues:

  • Encourage small groups to start a book club. They can read books in their spare time, then discuss them during a small group meeting. You can all read the same book together, or each person can read a different book and share what they learned with the group. And if you buy an ebook, you don’t have to worry about anyone bringing germs to your door.
  • Have an online watch party. Does your group always ask if there’s a video version of a book you’re reading? Then a small group watch party might be right up your alley. You can set a time to watch a faith-based film or thought-provoking documentary together and hop online when it’s over to discuss the movie. You can use an online group chat to jot down your thoughts, or you could hop onto a free service like Google Meet to talk face-to-face.
  • Chat and pray together in an online group. If your church small groups don’t already use an online group, you’re missing out on a big way that people stay in touch. Especially during days like these when safety restrictions are physically separating people, we must make an extra effort to ensure that people are getting the help, prayer and encouragement they need. Whether it’s through a social media group or a group via your church website, prioritize putting your church members in some kind of digital space where they can keep connected and continue to transparently share their lives.

Thanks be to God for the many modern-day gifts we have that can help us to advance the ministry of the Kingdom even when we are socially separated. There is no virus, restriction or mandate that can stop the growth and of the global Church; it is up to us how we will utilize this unique opportunity in history to continue to be a light.

Bob Pritchett is the founder and CEO of Faithlife, a church technology company creating integrated ministry platforms such as church presentation software, academic study resources, eBooks, mobile giving, church websites and Logos Bible Software.

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