We are currently in an awkward dance with the COVID-19 virus and it’s about to step on our feet. Hard!
In the early stages of the virus, we were introduced to the concept of the Covid-19 hammer and dance. This is the concept used by public health officials to describe the process of controlling a virus with public health measures. In March we experienced the hammer (the lock-down) as a means to control the infection numbers, “flatten the curve,” and bring the spread of the virus under control. By doing this, we were able to enter the dance (the season of gradual reopening that we are now in). The dance is the increasing and decreasing measures of gathering sizes, precautions, restrictions, etc. to keep the numbers at a controllable level by balancing public health with society’s need for the economy, physical community, and education.
As the church, we made the adjustments to the hammer in March by moving exclusively online (with varied success – more on that and why in a future post). We are now adapting to the dance as most churches are cautiously moving to some sort of public in-person gatherings.
As we enter the Fall, we will be faced with the second wave of the virus (historically, the second wave is the most dangerous and deadly). As a result, there is a very strong possibility (even probability) that the hammer will be coming back and, as a result, the church will be moving back exclusively online. I know this is not the news you want to hear, and you will be tempted to ignore it as alarmist. Yet, I would encourage you to not yield to that temptation. Rather, I implore you to make a plan and prepare for the possibility.
In the coming days, I would urge pastors and church leaders to be prepared in two ways. First, have a plan for all your ministries to go back fully online. Whatever you think of online ministry, this is something you can be prepared for. Just as you have a plan to progressively open up, have a plan to move back fully online. Second, begin preparing your staff, leaders, elders, and church members for this possibility. A tenant of change management is to telegraph your moves and if people know you have a plan, they will respond much better when you have to execute it (give a sense of calm and purpose as they do). Preparing people for this is good leadership and will help your church/ministry lean into the challenge ahead rather than scramble in desperation or surrender in defeat.
As you continue to do the Covid-19 dance, are you ready for the possibility of the hammer? Be prepared, have a plan, and when/if it comes, you will be able to pivot with intentionality, confidence, and effectiveness.