Why your church needs a Re-Exit plan

by | Jun 24, 2020

For the last few months, we’ve all been dreaming and planning for how we would bring our churches together again.

At this point, it feels like we’ve fully entered the reopening phase of pandemic church.

Churches are beginning to open to varying extents. Some with drive-in services, others with limited-capacity, socially-distanced, mask-wearing services. (Anyone else feel like Rick Flair when you read that last sentence? Woo!)

A lot has gone into the reopening phase of the church. I wrote a post a couple of months ago (Why Clarity Matters When Reopening Your Church) that many of you read and responded to. That post discussed some things churches would need to consider to reopen safely and the importance of clearly communicating expectations to people before they arrive.

Many of you have gone about the work of planning to reopen and have begun executing the plan. So, now what?

Now that we’re moving into the reopening phase, I thought I’d poke the bear and suggest each church needs a “Re-exit Plan.”


Why a Re-Exit Plan?

We all hope once we reenter our buildings we won’t ever have to leave again. Still, experts are not ruling out a second wave of coronavirus in the Fall. Even now infection numbers are rising in many states across the U.S., not declining.

There are many churches who have already closed again after only recently opening their doors due to members, pastors, or priests testing positive for COVID.

There is some chance your church will need to once again suspend in-person gatherings. The question is, will we be better prepared for the next round of church at home?


Have a Plan. Lead Well.

Having a plan is about more than just your church leadership being prepared. Having a plan in place gives your congregation and community peace of mind in knowing what to expect.

Some questions you might want to answer could be:

  • What local factors will impact our decision?
    • Local schools closing
    • Stay-at-home orders
    • A rise in the local infection rate
  • What internal factors will impact your decision?
    • The average age of congregation
    • A Percentage of congregants willing/able to attend
    • Cleaning capabilities
    • Budget room to do both online and in-person well (sometimes you have to choose)

I hear a lot of churches want to have both in-person and online available. While that sounds like a great idea, there are factors that have to be considered for each to be able to be done well.

We’ll pick up that train of thought in another post soon.


Minimize Uncertainty With a Clear Plan

No doubt, you’re just as tired as I am of the phrase, “In these uncertain times…” If I get one more email that starts with that phrase I’m going to toss my laptop out the window.

No one likes uncertainty. It produces fear, anxiety, and a sense of being overwhelmed. Part of leading and communicating well is having plans to reduce or remove uncertainty where we are able.

Isn’t that part of the message we have as Christians in the first place? No matter how hard life gets, God is with us. Pretty sure that was the theme one night at VBS last year.

The best way to remove uncertainty from your congregation is to have a clearly communicated plan for possible scenarios.

As a church, with the help of local healthcare professionals, determine what your threshold will be to make the decision to suspend in-person gatherings again.

Having a clearly laid out plan for what will trigger suspending gatherings will help your staff and volunteers plan to do it well this time. It will also give your congregations an idea of what to expect so it’s not a shock when things close again.

When the pandemic first hit, most of our churches scrambled to move ministry online. A lot of mistakes were made to no fault of our churches. It just happened SO fast.

Now, we have the ability to foresee the possibility of closing again and plan well. We can do this in a way that serves our members and our communities well.


So, what’s your plan?

Does your church have a “re-exit” plan? Is this something that has been discussed to any length?

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Share your plan if you have one! 

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