This is a topic that hopefully will be less of a concern as time goes on: how can you as a church leader help people reduce their concerns about health safety while in your church building? Yes, COVID-19 cases are currently declining, but worries still exist, breakouts are still possible, and the future is still a little uncertain. The pandemic has had an impact on church design options, so it remains something to consider when planning changes to your church building.
Understanding the COVID-19 Reshuffle
Following the shutdown caused by the pandemic, many churches are dealing with a decrease in prior attendance numbers. People have reshuffled where they go to church; for many, this is based on whether masks are required or not and the politics behind those rules. This group has thrown the theology to the backseat and is looking at more contemporary reasons for why they go to church. All of this impacts who shows up at your church building for worship and ministry.
For example, a lot of churches have seen the departure of “the crowd.” Churches usually have a group of members who are committed to the church, no matter what. They always show up and they pledge. Then you’ve got “the crowd,” the people who showed up because it’s the thing to do, or because they feel they should. These folks generally have no real strong commitment to a church, and when COVID-19 showed up, they left (and we’ve described the numerical impact of those departures here).
The Impact of Online Worship on Church Building Attendance
At this point, most church leaders that wanted to bring their churches online have done so. The good side of being online is that it’s opened up new avenues for ministry and kept people connected. The bad news is that some people discovered they like it better than coming to a church building in person. This raises the question of when will these people feel like coming to an in-person service? Also, if they’re not going to come back in the long run, how will you keep them connected to your congregation?
Another big question for church leaders today is how to handle the continued appearance of new COVID-19 variants and outbreaks. Depending on what state you live in and what you’re wanting to do ministry-wise, this could cause great consternation or not be a problem at all. Some people are obviously more afraid to go out when pandemic numbers are rising, and that affects church attendance as well.
Focusing on Church Design Safety Elements in 2022
So, church leaders are familiar with these issues. What do we do in 2022? Our response to this question is to focus on safety. If you want people to show up and be comfortable in your church building, you have to address their safety concerns. Over the next several posts, we’re going to focus on four church design and facilities areas that can help people feel safe: tools, design, concepts and opportunities.
In our next article, we’ll focus on the first category: tools. Meanwhile, keep up with the latest in church building wisdom by signing up for our next free i3 webinar, which is how we keep church leaders “in the know” about every aspect of church design, construction, and using your church building for ministry in your community.