WHEN IS THE CHURCH BUILDING REOPENING?



We just issued a quick 6 question survey out to our church to try to help gauge where our people are at in terms of wanting to come back to physical church services. I love statistics & data & have found this information extremely helpful in terms of trying to get a feel on the heartbeat of our people right now.


A couple of things to know about this data:

  • Our church, Anthem Church, is located in Northwest Indiana which is still considered Chicagoland.

  • Pre Coronavirus we had 3 identical Sunday Services at 8:30a, 10:15a, and Noon with Kids ministry available at all 3 services.

  • The state of Indiana has given the green light, as of May 8th, for churches to resume physical church gatherings with recommended CDC guidelines in place.

  • After discussing quite a few things with our leaders, we have elected to wait to physically start gatherings until June 7th. I've listed a few thoughts at the bottom of this article on what that may look like as well as a few hunches I have after seeing this data.


The 6 questions we used in this survey were:

  1. When is the soonest you would consider coming back to the church building?

  2. What would you want to see happen before you would comfortably return to church?

  3. If we opened next week, would you volunteer in your same spot?

  4. If we opened next week, would you send your children to our children’s programming?

  5. What do you miss most about church?

  6. Until mid-July, The CDC guidelines for religious gatherings recommend wearing face coverings while inside the building, no touching, sitting 6 feet apart, and asking those 65 and older or those with underlying health issues to stay at home, along with other recommendations. On a scale from 1 - 5, how willing would you be to return to a service with these guidelines in place?


Here are the question by question results with a few comments & conclusions:


When is the soonest you would consider coming back to the church building?

The answers to this question ranged from one side of "other churches are gathering right now, why aren't we" to the complete other side of "please love us enough to keep the building closed" and everything in between. Statistically, this is where our people landed:


  1. May = 13%

  2. June = 35 %

  3. July = 22 %

  4. August = 12 %

  5. Fall = 9 %

  6. Not sure / Next Year = 9 %


As you can see, the answers are all over the map. Please pray for Godly wisdom for leaders in this season...


What would you want to see happen before you would comfortably return to church?

Answers here landed in 3 pretty equal categories:


  1. A decrease in percentage of Covid-19 cases in our state.

  2. CDC guidelines followed and implemented including facemasks, gloves, social distancing, & a new seating arrangement in auditorium with more space between chairs and rows.

  3. A detailed cleaning plan with more hand sanitizer available throughout the building.


No real surprises here. I was a bit surprised by the number of people who specifically referenced the CDC.


If we opened next week, would you volunteer in your same spot?

  • No - 64%

  • Yes - 36%

It seems as if some people are comfortable coming back, but not quite yet serving yet. I feel like this speaks to people wanting to re-enter society slowly.


If we opened next week, would you send your children to our children’s programming?

  • No - 79%

  • Yes - 36%

This is by far the clearest feedback we got back. I take this as young families probably are not coming to physical church services for a while.


What do you miss most about church?

  1. Connection with people

  2. Live worship & preaching.


On a scale from 1 - 5 (not likely to very likely) how willing would you be to return to a service with CDC guidelines in place?

  • 5 (very likely) - 35%

  • 4 - 13%

  • 3 - 20%

  • 2 - 11%

  • 1 (not likely) - 21%

Overall, I was surprised by how many people said they would still come to a physical church service wearing a facemask & sitting 6 ft. apart!


COMMENTS, THOUGHTS, & CONCLUSIONS

  • My guess is that we won't see "back to normal" Sunday attendance until at least October.

  • We are more than likely going to keep our kid's ministry closed until at least September. How do you keep kids to adhere to Social Distancing guidelines? Our church is comprised of a lot of young families. We have a 6-year-old son. With no kids ministry, my guess is young families will continue to worship online.

  • Our current plan is to have our Elders & Leadership come up with a phased approach to reopening our building that looks a bit like our state's phased approach. For example, the month of June would be one physical Sunday gathering at 50% capacity that you have to RSVP to get in & one small group a day in the building. The month of July two gatherings at 75% etc.

  • We are coming up with a list of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that we will provide for people on a weekly basis compared to what we will ask people to bring on their own.

  • Moving ahead, in addition to our opening our physical building, we are continuing digital church everything. We are currently planning how to continue to offer the best online experience possible while moving back towards physical gatherings and merging those worlds together. We have seen God do some amazing things over the past few months. I will write more about that later :)

The bottom line...

"I do believe it will take more leadership to reopen the church building than it took to close the church building."

Do you have any insight you would offer? If you are a business or church leader reading this, what are your thoughts?

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