As 2020 goes on, we are getting eager to reopen our churches and largely have our lives just go back to normal. However, opening our doors to everyone, in the same way they were several months ago is not safe, legal or practical. With that said, we have drafted 4 phases in which we plan to reopen our church. Please note that these plans may change as government timelines for reopening slow or quicken. There are no dates attached to each phase as local governments pertaining to our campuses have not released any such information. We will not move forward with any phases until it is legal and safe to do so.

Phase 1

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ALLOTMENT TO BEGIN: allowing groups of at least 10 to gather again

KEY FOCUS: Gatherings in Small Groups 

PEOPLE REACHED IN THIS PHASE: The people participating in this phase are known as early
“wave 1” Adopters. These are the people who are likely the most eager for things to return back to normal and have little hesitation returning to public life.


  • Looking to open our churches up to smaller groups of people. This could look like team nights,
    vision nights, growth group gatherings, or any other small gatherings.
  • Holding community serve events that you can staff with appropriate amount of volunteers.


  • Extra cleanings of all surfaces before and after meetings
  • Requiring 6 foot distance from each other
  • Asking that no person who is sick or has been around a sick person attends any events
  • Everyone attending wears masks or meeting is held outside in a well aeriated area
  • Proper Sanitation stations
Phase 2

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ALLOTMENT TO BEGIN: allowing groups of 10-100 to gather

KEY FOCUS: Welcoming groups of weekend attendees back to the campus

PEOPLE REACHED IN THIS PHASE: This would be all of  “wave 1” people, and begin with early adopters of  “wave 2” groups of people. These are the people who are nervous to leave their homes but will do so, even before things totally return to normal. Some will do so sooner than others. (Many of them are waiting a little while to see how things go) To retain this new group of people, you will need to make them feel safe in the environments they choose to enter or else they will retreat.


  • Hold services of 10-100 people max (this can be done via RSVPs, sign ups, etc.)


  • Removal or blockage of extra chairs and rows
  • Masks available like ear plugs and required for every person in attendance to wear
  • Children, preschool and student ministries on hold; parents take children to adult service
  • Doors to the church are propped open to avoid contact with handles
  • Bulletins, announcement cards, invite cards, message notes are not passed out
  • Church is deep cleaned before and after. Worship centers will be sanitized between services.
  • A new “no contact” way of collecting the offering will be implemented
  • Live broadcasts via online platforms will continue to accommodate those not willing or able to return
  • Asking overflow guests to return for next service
  • Addition of more worship services to allow for physical distancing
  • Church leaders continue to help parents disciple children in the home
  • Plan for entering and exiting the building after service are set in place. Dismiss in sections or rows.
Phase 3

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ALLOTMENT TO BEGIN: allowing gatherings of groups of 100-300

KEY FOCUS: Reopening and operating several of the ministries of your church. This includes children’s ministry and weekday groups. This is still done while taking safety precautions.

PEOPLE REACHED IN THIS PHASE: larger groups of the “wave 1 & 2”   

KEY GOALS: hold larger services and begin to return to normal operations while still taking precautions


  • Classrooms must be sanitized at greater levels than ever before
    • Volunteers will need training to help them learn best practices for sanitizing rooms, toys, etc;
  • Older South Hills Kids leaders are given other opportunities to serve (in low-risk areas)
  • Kids Classroom size will be limited to allow physical distancing, which may require multiple classes
  • In adult worship center, more chairs are added but still at a distanced, if necessary.
  • Worship center is dismissed in sections or rows, if necessary.
  • Masks are still being worn and made available (this may change depending on how things go)
  • Groups are allowed to meet on campus while social distancing and wearing masks if necessary.
    • Adequate cleaning is done before and after. Shared food is not brought to these meetings.
  • VBS, Camps, and other large group programs are postponed or move online if group is above 300
  • Be open and transparent with the congregation about any budget shortfalls, cuts, and adjustments
  • Summer through winter events/programs are altered to match most current governmental guidelines.
  • People return to weekend services and groups; attendance rises unless flareups of COVID-19 occur

NOTE: Ministry to struggling families and individuals may increase in this time. Job loss, COVID-19 addictions (alcohol/pornography) may require counseling to help people cope with depression and
poor decisions made during the time of physical isolation in March/April/May

Phase 4

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ALLOTMENT TO BEGIN: Government allows for large/mass gatherings.
This will likely go along with the discovery of some highly effective treatment or vaccine.

KEY FOCUS: Return to fully operational ministry

PEOPLE REACHED IN THIS PHASE: Wave 1 and 2 as well as the final group of people known as the “Wave 3.” These are the people who have been waiting it out and staying in quarantine until they saw tangible solutions and society return to normal. They will account for a large part of your audience that was online in phase 2 and 3.

KEY GOALS: become fully operational and innovate based on what you have learned in this season.
We also want to celebrate this phase and give people hope


  • Celebrate the victories and progress in ministry, outreach, attendance, etc. from May 2020 onward
  • Challenge the congregation to remain flexible and open to new ways of “doing church”
  • Find God’s hand of deliverance and guidance and celebrate His leadership of the church
  • Anticipate and talk about summer ministries (ie: VBS, camps, mission trips, etc) as a church.
  • Celebrate existing wins. Help the people see the good that has come from COVID-19.