A Huge Reason We Can Expect Smaller Crowds Upon Church Reentry

by | May 27, 2020 | Church Health, Church Revitalization, Small Church / Rural Church

One reason we can expect smaller crowds upon church reentry is not the virus.

That’s part of it for sure. It makes sense. Especially if you’re high-risk you should consider sheltering in place until it’s safe to return.

But many parts of the country are opening. I’m seeing lots of traffic on the streets. Restaurants are buys again. I haven’t been to a mall or department store, but I hear they have traffic again.

Many churches have opened for in-person services or are considering when that will be. Still, I would expect to open with a smaller percent of your average. And not because of the fear issue.

There is one reason we can expect smaller crowds upon church reentry. 

It could even become the bigger reason.

One reason: HABIT

People have gotten used to worshiping in their pajamas. They like “not” being “late” for church. It’s been easy to “get the kids ready”. Bad hair days are not a problem. You can “worship” from anywhere. I’ve seen the trend in meetings where people could have been in person, yet chose to “zoom” in for convenience. I get it.

There will be a natural inclination among some to worship from home.

I’m not suggesting we ignore attempts to gather people together again. I am of the mindset that in-person church is Biblical. I don’t think the size of the gathering is mandated, but corporate worship, study, and fellowship is a part of discipleship. As well as in-person caring and serving others.

But I think church leaders will need to begin to recognize this is a part of “new normal”. Prior to this pandemic, some church leaders had been discussing how to engage disengaged people. We need to continue those conversations and take them to a whole new level to our online communities.

We are discussing this as a church. I don’t have all the answers yet – if you do please share them.

But some questions I’m processing in my mind and with others:

What have we been called to do as a church?

(I know that may seem an obvious question, but seasons like this should cause us to ask vision-directive questions perhaps even more than procedural type questions. The answers to the vision questions should drive the procedural questions.)

Does one large corporate worship service have to occur every Sunday? 

If not, could two (or more) churches share a building and only try to have one or two larger events per month?

What are we offering of “value” to people they cannot get online?

In fairness, I think for a time there will be a greater appreciation among some for genuine human interaction.

How can we offer “value” online?

How do we continue to create something for people to engage online who may not feel comfortable returning to church – or may choose to even more irregularly than before?

Most of us believe that only attending a worship service is not enough to disciples someone. So, we offer small group Bible studies and serving/mission opportunities.

How do we encourage that to people who mainly remain a part of the online church? 

What do people need? What do they want? How do we deliver it? 

What’s the best use of my time and our staff/volunteers time?

Are we adequately allocated for efficiency, effectiveness, and longevity in this changing landscape?

I’m open to your input – learning as you are.

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Ron Edmondson

I am CEO of Leadership Network. I was previously pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, a church leader and the planter of two churches. I am passionate about planting churches but also helping established churches thrive. I love assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy, and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. I have more than 35 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and have been in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I have successfully led the restart of one church and the planting of two churches, and now we are seeing God’s hand tremendously in church revitalization. I have a seminary masters and a master’s in organizational leadership. I also once helped lead (as an elected official) a mid-sized city, where I served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. The greatest times for me are with my wife Cheryl and our amazing adult sons, Jeremy, his wife Mary, and our youngest son Nate. Over 20 years ago, I founded a non-profit ministry called Mustard Seed Ministry, which provides devotional resources, conducts family, marriage, and parenting, and church leadership seminars. My INTJ personality on the Myers-Briggs indicator means I have big ideas, I love creative and critical thinking and I love to see progress. I am usually around people but crave downtime. For years I was usually training for either a half or full marathon. Running was my most productive thinking time. Knee problems in recent years have caused me to stop running, but I’m committed to finding the time I need to fuel my mind, body, and spirit. I write several times weekly on leadership, church, and family. To sign up for my blog on a reader or by email, click HERE. I do interact with my readers, so feel free to contact me. You can email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com.I am also on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ronaedmondson. My devotional site is www.mustardseedministry.com