It is a tricky time for church leaders. First, they’ve been denied the real fellowship of their members for several months and now that the go-ahead to resume services has been given, they have to put in extra thoughts, resources, and time to ensure good health and safety of worshippers and workers. It’s a tough call to maintain a balance between physical wellbeing and spiritual blessings. No thanks to COVID-19 that has foisted upon us a new reality that will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Below is an attempt to help leaders ‘check’ some boxes as a way of making it easier for administrators to plan adequately for resumption. There are several suggestions out there (including those from government and health authorities) but it is hoped that some of these will make meaning and help reduce the anxiety that some people may have.
- As a start, it will be useful to look into your church culture, the peculiar habits and behaviors of members, especially as it relates to pre-service, in-service, and post-service times. Then walk through high traffic areas and determine items, articles, and physical structures with high contact rates. Review cleaning protocols and draw up new ones that pertain to the identified public areas and toilets and train full-time staff and volunteer workers on the new antiseptic protocols.
- The cleaning regime should take into consideration pews, door handles and knobs, water dispensers, seats in the lobby area, and so on. It should also apply to the main sanctuary, children’s church, common areas, and other rooms used for one activity or the other. Deep clean where and when necessary. Make plans to have these high-volume contact areas sanitized regularly – before and after service. Declutter the children’s church as much as possible to reduce the probability of surfaces that can harbor the virus.
- Depending on how the sanctuary is configured, consider spacing out chairs or installing temporary demarcations to encourage physical distance. It’s easier to keep families together.
- Reduce the exchange of used microphones to the barest minimum. If possible, limit the use of one mic per person. Consider reducing the size of the choir and have members adequately spread out during rehearsals and service.
- Educate ushers and greeters on how best to engage or welcome worshippers without physical contact. Wearing a face mask should be mandatory before and after church service. Make provision for extras for those who may forget theirs at home.
- If affordable, hold several services to maintain a low-density congregation. Allow members to determine and choose what service is convenient for them ahead of time. Church management software like ChurchPad offers great features like RSVP system and Survey solution that you can leverage to make some informed decisions. Those in the vulnerable age groups will stay away for a while. In addition to the options of watching services online, consider other ways to reach out to them so that there’s a feeling of belonging.
- The administration of holy communion should be reviewed. If possible, use pre-wrapped combined elements for this instruction.
- Just like it is in public areas, consider pasting social distancing and face mask-wearing instructions at strategic locations. Also, place hand sanitizers in visible locations.
- Identify wholesalers of cleaning and sanitizing supplies and order in bulk to save costs. The application or use of disinfectants and other cleaning agents should be carried out with caution. Manufacturers’ instructions should be strictly adhered to so as not to cause harm.
The link below takes you to the CDC’s guidelines on disinfectants, cleaning, and other sanitary precautions for the coronavirus.
Finally, most commercials are repeated so that the message registers in the mind of the receiver. Repeat information sharing and continuously educate members on these protocols, so they don’t forget. Produce videos, emails, and text messages detailing the new arrangements explaining what to expect as we begin to gather once more.