Lessons from COVID-19 & the Reopening Phase in Australia for Your Church with John Finkelde

Thanks for joining in for this week’s unSeminary podcast. I’m glad you’ve decided to tune in as we talk with John Finkelde. John has thirty plus years of pastoral experience in Australia and currently runs the organization Grow a Healthy Church. He consults with and coaches churches and church leaders all over the world, helping them with organizational leadership, discipleship and improving their overall health.

Today John is sharing the experience in Australia with churches returning to in-person services and what we can learn from them.

  • Returning to in-person church. // Smaller churches seem to be doing better in terms of attendance levels than medium or large churches. For many small churches their current attendance is about the same as it was pre-covid and they’ve seen a higher percentage of people returning. For many other churches though, people have gotten into a rhythm of online church and are reluctant to return to in-person services. Online church is convenient and easy and even leaders are struggling to come back to in-person church. For many churches at least 20% of their former congregation has simply vanished. John recommends personally reaching out to people and getting Facebook ads in front of people to help reach out to those who are currently opting out of church. Think about how you could shepherd those wandering sheep that currently are far from their church home.
  • Offer giving options. // Not meeting in the normal in-person services has caused churches to look to other methods for receiving offerings. Most churches rely on online giving, but have also gotten creative about how they can serve congregants who don’t feel comfortable with this option. Develop other ways that people can give, bringing cash or checks directly to the church or mailing them in.
  • Build up reserves. // Build up your cash reserves and stay frugal on your expenditure. Go into 2021 strong financially. John advises that a reasonable amount of savings to hold in reserve is at least three months, but build toward a better reserve of six months if you can.
  • Work out what you need for your church in social media. // For small churches, if you can’t do church online, drop it for now but at least include social media. Don’t try to use all of the social media channels and stretch yourself thin, but focus on at least one to connect with others. Become an expert on that one platform and really work that marketplace since that’s where people gather. For medium and large churches, find a way to work the online service into what you do as a church. Start a Facebook campus or other online campus and position yourself to have an ongoing online campus in addition to social media. Don’t let up on social media even when things start returning to “normal”.
  • Livestreaming advice for better results. // John is offering a free resource, Livestreaming Frustrating You? Get Better Results Today. It helps churches of all sizes and resources by giving information and advice on providing livestreaming services.
  • Grow a Healthy Church. // In helping others grow a healthy church, John does onsite and online consulting for three or four days to do a complete analysis of the church—discipleship, finances, leadership, evangelism, and more. He creates a report to provide a pathway for the church for the next twelve months and then coaches the pastor during that time. A members’ hub offers roadmaps and master classes for training and resources in all areas of the church.

You can learn more about John’s services to Grow a Healthy Church at

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Carey Nieuwhof

Surrounding yourself with other high capacity leaders is so important right now. When you’re well connected, you can put meaning to content and make well-informed decisions.

Carey Nieuwhof created The Leader’s Circle in March 2020, an inner circle of high capacity leaders who have direct access to him and to one another. If you want to stop leading alone and start leading together, apply now to join The Leader’s Circle.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.