As our churches reopen, we encourage you to follow and consider these guidelines.
PREPARE YOUR CHURCH
- Deep clean your entire church. Where will germs be transferred? Consider shampooing carpets, sanitizing pews, bathrooms, doorknobs, light switches, and microphones.
- Pay attention to the preschool and children’s areas. Consider removing everything nonessential from the room to limit surfaces for potential contamination and do a thorough cleaning in between uses.
- Post signs about not shaking hands and doing non-contact greetings. You can promote the hashtag #itsoktosmileandwave.
- Tell your congregation through flyers on the doors, email, and social media about how you’ve prepared the church for their arrival. Be sure to use the words “clean, safe, and mindful of health needs and issues in preparation for a non-touch experience” or something similar. Also say that if they are sick, then they should not be present and can join online instead.
SERVICE TIMES AND LOCATION
- Keep an online meeting option for those who are afraid or unable to attend your service in person.
- You can offer multiple services to encourage a greater chance of social distancing. One way to ensure your services are evenly spread is to have people sign up for a service. You can use Facebook events and have people mark which event they’ll attend.
AMENITIES: COFFEE, BULLETINS, AND HAND SANITIZER
- Restrooms: You must decide whether you will allow bathroom usage at this time. The Governor’s Office is recommending that you do not.
- Do not hand out bulletins.
- We recommend withholding coffee stations or groups meals at this time. You can stay attuned to the guidelines to know when is best to reintroduce these services.
- If you choose to keep your restrooms open (the Governor’s Office recommends keeping them closed), be sure to post signs about washing hands in bathrooms with appropriate guidelines to doing so.
- Display hand sanitizer throughout the church.
- Supply masks for those without one to increase comfort levels.
STAFF: GREETERS AND VOLUNTEERS
- Provide security and enlist ushers to be both inside and outside greeters. Instruct them on how to greet post-quarantine: NO hand shaking or hugs.
- If your bathrooms are open, have greeters monitor the bathrooms to ensure hands are washed and social distancing is followed.
- Consider a temperature check on all staff and volunteers.
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND SMALL GROUPS
- The Governor’s office is recommending that you have your church members enter the building and immediately go into the worship service to be seated. For more information, see the “Worship Services” section.
- Consider whether you will have Sunday school or small groups (see previous point). Make sure you’re communicating if and when these classes will resume.
- Consider dividing your groups to maintain the social distancing standards if you have small groups.
- If you do have class, please know you should clean the doorknobs, water fountains, and other high traffic areas in between uses.
- Have a plan for your leaders and teachers. Will they discuss what God revealed to them in the quarantine? Will you encourage a prayer and praise time?
- If you don’t have class, make sure you have provided an outline for your teachers and leaders to continue engagement for your groups. This is still an excellent time to build classes and community.
PRESCHOOL AND CHILDREN
- You may consider not opening preschool and children on the first Sunday back.
- Pre-register children to limit how many are in any room at a time. Some churches are starting with a five child limit in each room at first.
- Limit leaders in the preschool and children’s areas to those who do not have pre-existing conditions. Also limit leaders to those under 65 years old.
- Have extra volunteers to help in the preschool ministry where some children may suffer from separation anxiety after only being with parents for a long time.
- Have only one person handle child check in stations and do not pass the check-in device.
- Do not let parents past the “double doors” and instead drop them off at the welcome desk.
- Have a check list of what’s been cleaned and when in each room.
- Develop a list of procedures for your volunteers. Train them on this list through Zoom prior to the first meeting.
- Celebrate the return! Hopefully you have some time to plan a Comeback Service. Encourage praise, provide times of testimony, and a sermon that spurs people to embrace life changes God has revealed to them during the quarantine.
- If your people are from the same household, they can sit together. Consider spacing out other groups.
- Remember to avoid handing out bulletins, and instead project all announcements on screens.
- Change the way you offer communion. Avoid passing a plate or bowl.
- Avoid passing microphones on the stage.
- Continue offering online giving options. Have stations in the church where people can drop offerings instead of passing a plate.
- Come up with a fun way to greet others in a no-contact way.
- Consider dismissing in an orderly way to ensure there is social distancing.
NextGen Statewide Consultant Jenni Carter, Evangelism Catalyst Levi Skipper, and the Discipleship Team contributed to this article.
Adapted from the article on gabaptist.org