Practical Suggestions for Churches
(March 14, 2020)
As we navigate through these uncharted waters dealing with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, every organization seems to have a list of suggestions of how to survive. In light of those ideas, I thought it would be helpful to offer some specific suggestions to our churches as they continue to have, or seek to have, services during these difficult times.
While the CDC and other health organizations offer specific health and medical guidance, the following suggestions are simple and practical ideas that every church should consider.
Having greeters open church doors for attendees will eliminate a variety of people from touching the doors, as well as eliminate the greeters from shaking hands with each person.
Instead of passing the “plates,” consider placing offering buckets either at the front of the church during offering time or placing them strategically at doors when people exit.
Protect the Vulnerable
Encourage the elderly and those with compromised immune systems to take extra precautions, including staying away from large church settings.
Use “Social Distancing”
Although we come from a culture that encourages connectivity, including laying on of hands and greeting each other with an embrace, this is a time to step back from those traditions that could potentially spread the virus.
Smaller Service Gatherings
In areas where the local governmental authorities are requesting that groups no larger than 100 or 250 come together, consider going to smaller service venues/gatherings and have multiple services throughout the week, not just on Sunday mornings.
Emphasize Small Groups
If the governmental authorities are recommending that only a limited number of people congregate, use Sunday school class groups or other small groups to continue the mission and focus of your local church.
Communicate about Giving
Regrettably, many people will not give to your church unless they actually attend services. It is important to communicate to them that all of the ministries of the church are continuing and that the church needs their support. Even though you are not having your regular meetings, encourage them to be loyal stewards to God‘s Kingdom. Electronic giving options are very helpful in these times.
Stop “Let’s Greet Each Other” Time
During times like this, the “meet and greet“ times should be eliminated during, before, and after services.
Continue to Reach Out to Your Community
With school closures and businesses closing, there are going to be families, and especially children, that may have to go without food and other necessities. Consider an outreach effort to those children who may not be getting breakfast and lunch at their school. Also, consider how you can provide assistance to those that may be unemployed due to the virus outbreak.
If you have a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus in your area, you may need to go fully to an “electronic” church format. Live stream, videoconference, and even Facebook Live may be options that you need to consider. Always remember to remind those watching to give so that the ministries of the church can continue, even though they are not attending church in your physical building.
Watch Your Church Budget Closely
If you are unable to have church for several weeks or if your attendance is off substantially for an extended period of time, it is most likely that your church’s financial condition is going to deteriorate. It is important that you reach out to your mortgage holder, as well as to your other creditors, and begin to work out payment arrangements with them immediately, rather than waiting until you are in a crisis situation.
Clean Your Church Facilities More Often
Any surface that your church members touch should be cleaned with an alcohol-based disinfectant immediately before and following your services. The CDC provides specific guidance on what products are effective in killing this virus. Extra efforts should be made to protect all surfaces of the church from the spread of the virus.
Extra Attention to Children Areas
While children have not been as adversely impacted by the coronavirus as others, there is a concern that children may be spreading the virus. Therefore, all children’s areas should be cleaned thoroughly before and after every service, including extensive cleaning of all toys.
Sick Staff Should Be Sent Home
Whether the person is a paid staff person or a volunteer, they should be sent home if they exhibit any symptoms of being sick. Even though they may not have the virus, a person that is in a weakened condition could become a carrier for the virus. Those persons should be encouraged to stay home until they are completely well.
There are probably at least another hundred suggestions that you could add to this list. However, the goal is to create an awareness that we need to take extra precautions.
Most importantly, I am reminded that the Bible references 365 scriptures where God tells his people to “fear not.“ Even though we are in a difficult time, we must not have a spirit of fear. Yes, we must take every precaution. However, we serve a God who can resolve all of these issues immediately. Our prayer is that He will do so.