Reopening the Church: 6 Insights from Dr. Ronnie Floyd
As churches are beginning to reopen, there are a number of changes to consider. I interviewed Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and esteemed pastor and author, to discuss the future of the church and ask his thoughts moving forward with COVID-19. He provided wisdom, encouragement, and insight into what pastors should consider while preparing to open their church doors.
6 Insights from Dr. Ronnie Floyd
1. Ask Questions and Communicate
There is great power and humility in asking questions. In James 1:19, the Bible instructs us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, so it’s critical as a leader to always be willing to listen to those you lead, those you serve, and those who work alongside you. It doesn’t matter the dynamic of your church, we have all been affected by this crisis in some way, and it’s good for you to have a well-rounded view of the different ways the members of your community have been impacted.
When a crisis happens, we must value communication. Stay in contact with major leaders and other pastors to use each other as a resource. Working in unity and being open to other’s perspectives is a biblical principle and a great way to see the big church coming together as one.
2. The Church Does Not Stop
The purpose and mission of the church is not canceled due to a pandemic. Therefore, we go forward even though we may be scattered instead of gathered. Dr. Floyd mentions the example of a church member who wants to be baptized. He suggests conducting the ceremony electronically and letting the church body know so they can tune in and be a part of the event. These people don’t want to wait to take their next step in faith, and why would we want them to? They have given their lives to Christ and are vibrantly trying to go forward, this is a major step.
3. Online Audience
Who has survived this transition most successfully? The churches already set up online or at least trying to move in that direction. God has given an incredible opportunity for expansion, and it has become an accelerator for a lot of churches. God deserves praise for that because on the backside of this, a lot of the things we are doing now will become new pathways for the future (online offering, online small group ministry, and online audiences). Even when life feels chaotic, God has continually provided and you have to seize each moment that he offers with faith.
4. Cultural Indicators
Church members are not all going to come back that first Sunday you open. Cultural indicators will serve as a release for people to go back to church. The sooner people are back to doing the basics of life like eating restaurants and going to work, the sooner they will feel comfortable going back to church. Smaller churches will be less affected by this. Hesitation to return will be seen more in the large membership churches, at-risk or aging communities, and churches in metro areas because the threat of COVID-19 comes in massive amounts of people gathered in one setting.
5. Local and Global
Local church pastors will need to focus on reaching their own towns but will need to adopt a global focus as well. Pastors have to be alert in how they can reach their state and how they are able to come together with local churches to do something big - the country and the world needs this gospel. The needs are endless and there is a big world outside of our own churches.
6. Relationships and Moments
Ministry comes down to these two basic things, relationships and moments. It is the moments in the middle of a life-altering event that make the longest-lasting impact on people: Times when you’re with them in a hospital, at a wedding, or at a funeral. You have the power to influence someone with a phone call, text message, or handshake (if you still chose to do so after this pandemic). Discipline yourself to get in that church lobby with people, and be one of the last people to leave. You have the potential to laugh, pray, and lead people to Christ in that lobby.
“I have learned, we need God more than ever before, we need each other more than ever before, and we need to finish the task of taking the gospel to the world more than ever before.”
-Dr. Ronnie Floyd