12 Reflections from Pastors Whose Churches Have Regathered in Worship

More and more churches are returning to in-person worship. As I’ve talked with pastors who’ve led their church’s re-gathering process, here are some of the reflections I’ve heard:

  1. “I was just getting used to doing worship online, and now we’re dealing with the hard work and stress of regathering.” No pastor I know regrets the necessary preparations for regathering, but the work has increased their stress load again.
  2. “More people have come back than I thought would return immediately.” The crowds have understandably been smaller than pre-COVID, but they’ve also been larger than many pastors assumed.
  3. “It’s not easy to encourage vulnerable people to stay home.” Little within us as pastors leans toward telling members not to come for a while.
  4. “I have to get over expecting everything to go perfectly.” We’re all walking a path we’ve not walked before, so we can’t get stressed when something doesn’t work as well as we planned.
  5. “Still, though, things have gone remarkably well.” Overall, pastors speak positively about the regathering process in their church.
  6. “It’s just strange preaching to people in masks.” For some pastors, it’s been harder to adjust to a “masked congregation” than it was to adjust to preaching to a camera.
  7. “I didn’t realize how much I depended on facial expressions to gauge how people were receiving my preaching.” Most of us learned in preaching classes about the importance of maintaining eye contact with the congregation. What we didn’t learn about was the importance of seeing the faces of our listeners. Their entire face . . . .
  8. “Scanning the audience during preaching feels odd when people are separated by social distances.“ That’s particularly the case when a small congregation is spread out through a large worship center.
  9. “Using humor is harder when members are wearing masks.” Apparently, we’re accustomed to hearing and seeing laughter when we say something we think is funny.
  10. “Preaching to a camera and to a crowd isn’t easy.” After weeks of looking directly into a camera, now we have to preach to folks still joining online while also speaking to people in the room.
  11. “I’m looking forward to when we can offer children’s ministries again.” Churches vary on their timing to do so, but some pastors miss young families who’ve determined to worship at home until the ministries begin again.
  12. “Our members have been gracious and supportive so far.” I’ve not heard anything different from pastors. Church members are just glad to be gathering again.

Pastors, what would you add to this list? 

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