As we come out of COVID, there are some changes that will stay beyond the lockdown. We are all sick of the phrase new normal but there’s no denying that our post-covid normal will be impacted by our pandemic experiences. Recently, Nelson Searcy said that 80% of the way we did church before COVID will continue after COVID which means only about 20% will change.
Here are some of the things I think will be part of the 20% of “changes that will stay.”
Online services. Streaming our services each week has expanded the ministry of the local church. The challenge will be how to engage and care for those that will continue with us online. For various reasons, some will prefer to relate online rather than in person.
Mobile connection. As the church has looked for ways to connect with members during the lockdown, our cell phones became a great option. From prayer requests, to sermon notes to announcements, push notifications will continue to be used. We shouldn’t underestimate the value of reminders, calendars, and online giving.
Zoom meetings. One of the surprising up-sides of the pandemic has been the almost universal acceptance of online meetings. The lockdown created space and drive to figure it out so that now both 8-year-olds and octogenarians are regularly interacting through this technology. Online sessions will continue to allow for attendance after the pandemic when travel, timing, personal health are concerned or just out of convenience. After-service interaction, training, orientation classes, and leadership meetings are good ways of using the online format.
Working from home. Many pastors, staff and volunteers are enjoying working from home. Global Workplace Analytics says “Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021. Our pandemic experience has shown us that we can still get the job done from home while saving time and money. Job flexibility, better work-life balance, and reduced travel times all argue for ongoing work-from-home choices. It’s also worth considering the decreased impact on the environment that remote work offers.
Masking wearing. No, we won’t all be wearing a mask, but masks will not completely disappear. Prior to COVID we were unaccustomed to seeing people wear masks in public. That stigma is gone and for some people, the mask will feel like a safer choice.
Offering boxes. As we have come together, we haven’t had formal offerings- passing the plate. I suspect that will continue, not out of safety, but out of practicality. Giving has not decreased and people will still be more comfortable without passing something from person to person.
Online giving. Digital giving has been around for years, but this past year almost all churches have created a giving portal. Some experts predict that online giving will account for 80% or more of church giving.
Less hugging. Before COVID, some of us weren’t crazy about hugs, anyway. We need to extend caution with our contact with one another. With health and safety at the forefront of our thoughts, we’ll need to keep being creative about how we demonstrate welcome and show love. Our words will become even more critical as we see less physical contact become normal.
Smaller gatherings. From concerts and sports to church and school gatherings, smaller will be viewed as better. We can expect less in person attendance. By the way, our smaller churches are positioned perfectly to make an impact in their communities.
Sanitation. Now that we all know how to properly wash our hands (it’s the Happy Birthday song, twice), we can expect this habit to hang around. We’re also likely to continue using hand sanitizer with regularity. But it’s more than that, deep cleaning and sanitizing will continue to matter—to the extent that some folks will opt not to participate if they feel that rooms are not cleaned thoroughly, not cleaned often, or not clean enough.
BEFORE YOU GO
So, that’s my list. What other things would you add? What changes are here to stay? Love to hear from you!