Local Church Ministry

Fall Pandemic Plans: How Your Church Can Prepare Now For What May Come Next

I know it’s still August, but there was a nip in the air this morning here in eastern Kentucky. It’s a sign that fall will soon be on its way!

As crazy as it sounds, the arrival of fall will usher us into the third season of this pandemic, both literally and figuratively. 

As the pandemic began in the spring, church leaders spent the majority of their time transitioning to an online presence. As the summer approached, many churches spent their time preparing to return to in-person gatherings safely. And soon fall will arrive, and with it, another new season for churches in the midst of a global pandemic.

I believe this next season will find many churches realizing that things are going to be different much longer than any of us had imagined five months ago. For the spring and summer, most churches simply canceled their scheduled events or moved them online. But with the realization that our new normal really is our new normal for the foreseeable future, churches will likely begin to make adjustments to ministry events and strategies rather than simply canceling them.

With that thought in mind, here are six suggestions for your church as you prepare for this next season of ministry in a pandemic:

#1: Pray for Wisdom

Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” Therefore, we must acknowledge that our plans are always subject to God’s will. That’s why every ministry decision should be bathed in prayer from start to finish. We need God’s wisdom for how best to continue navigating this pandemic. And the good news is that God stands ready to give us His wisdom, if we will ask for it: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God – who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly – and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Therefore, ask the Lord for godly wisdom before you make any ministry decisions this fall.

#2: Think Creatively About Upcoming Ministry Events

During the first two seasons of the pandemic, most ministry events were canceled or moved online. For most churches, Easter Sunday was spent at home. Vacation Bible School was canceled. Mission trips were postponed. Youth camp was canceled. And the list could go on.

As the fall approaches, churches usually conduct a number of different events such as:

  • Back to School giveaways
  • Launch of new Fall Discipleship classes
  • Fall Festivals
  • Trunk or Treat events
  • Preparing, serving, and/or delivering Thanksgiving meals for the community
  • Christmas cantatas and/or children’s Christmas plays

If your church chooses to conduct some of these events this fall, now is the time to think creatively how you can make the necessary adjustments. Perhaps your Fall Discipleship classes meet off-campus in homes instead of on-campus. Perhaps your Trunk or Treat becomes a drive-thru event this year. Perhaps your Christmas cantata becomes a community Christmas caroling event this year.

The possibilities are endless. But it’s clear that things are going to be different this fall. Now is the time to prepare and make creative adjustments so you can safely conduct these and other ministry events.

#3: Develop New Outreach Strategies

The creativity doesn’t have to stop with making adjustments to the existing events on your fall church calendar. Why not think of other COVID-friendly events or strategies to serve your community? Designate a Saturday this fall to go out into the community and rake leaves or clean out gutters. Conduct a prayerwalk (or prayer drive) through your community. If you need more ideas to get you started, here are 30 outreach ideas you can try during the pandemic.

#4: Take Inventory of Your Volunteers

As you consider making adjustments to existing ministries or starting new ministries, make sure you take inventory of your volunteers. Some folks who participate in your Trunk or Treat event may not feel comfortable doing so this year. The person who coordinates your Community Thanksgiving meal may be vulnerable to the coronavirus. 

You may find that you don’t have enough volunteers to conduct one or more of your events. It’s better to know that sooner rather than later so you can plan accordingly.

#5: Take Inventory of Your Finances

Similarly, you need to take inventory of your church finances as well. Many churches have weathered this pandemic fairly well from a financial standpoint, but others have struggled. As you evaluate your church’s ministry plans for this fall, you need to make sure that the finances are available to conduct any events you plan.

#6: Hold Plans Loosely 

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, churches will need to continue to be flexible. Even after you make the necessary adjustments, you may have to pull the plug on an event at the eleventh hour. Don’t get frustrated if that happens. Continue to trust that God is in control and turn your attention to what’s best next.

Ready For Season 3

As the church approaches the third season of this pandemic, I pray that you are able to conduct some of your planned ministry events. I pray that you’re able to proclaim the hope of the gospel to your community. And I pray that you continue to look to the Lord for strength, comfort, and wisdom!

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