COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on so many plans. People are feeling less connected than ever before, and it’s really having a negative influence on mental health. Church has always provided a sense of community and security for many. However, since indoor gatherings can be dangerous, reopening in your typical way is out of the question. There are ways to still offer services that will keep everyone safe, but it’s imperative that you follow the CDC’s guidelines to make it happen. People need their connection to spirituality now more than ever to find strength in these difficult times. Here are five keys to reopen your church amid the pandemic.
Get a little closer to home.
When people can’t come to worship, you need to find a way to come to them. Your congregation is so big that making house calls isn’t realistic or safe. In this case, you need to find a nontraditional way for you to bring your service to everyone’s home. You can accomplish this by live streaming your service, so your congregation can watch from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
In order to have everyone show up to your webcast, you’ll want to hire a professional company that specializes in live stream production services. They can come to the church, set up early on Sunday, and run the entire event with high-quality video. With their help, you’ll never have to worry about the technical side of a live stream. Also, if anything were to go wrong, your production team would easily be able to fix it and have your live event back up in no time. This could also be a wonderful opportunity to show off your services to other members of your community. You might even find your congregation is a little bigger by the time the pandemic is over.
Be prepared for in-person meetings.
Depending on where you live, small, masked gatherings may be allowed. If you and a few members of your congregation feel safe enough to hold a small ceremony—like a baptism or wedding—you need to make sure you have all of the resources you need to keep everyone safe.
If you’re holding more than one small gathering in a day, you need to make sure that you and the whole space are sanitized in between. Consider purchasing a spare pair of pulpit robes or another pulpit gown to change into between events. It never hurts to have a spare pair, anyway. It’s important that you also change your mask in between. You may even want to hire a cleaning crew to come and sanitize the space. Wash your hands and try to keep distance as much as possible. If you feel like you’re being overly cautious, you’re doing it right.
If you would really like to have an event where your congregation meets in person, consider doing an outdoor, socially distanced event. This requires a venue that can allow at least six feet in between attendees. If you have a huge parking lot, you can set up a stage near the church, have everyone park their cars, and listen to your full service. It’s unconventional, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Make sure everyone is staying in their vehicles and keep the sermon short, so no one needs to use the restroom.
Install sanitization stations.
When there are small gatherings in your church, make sure you have several places where your congregation can use hand sanitizer. It’s not a bad idea to invest in standing “no-touch” stations that are easy to use and contactless. Encourage your congregation to wash their hands as well when they get home.
Provide everyone with masks.
Mask wearing is perhaps the most important part of keeping everyone safe. You want to make sure everyone has access to masks, so why not have them made with your church’s name or logo on it? Your congregation will want to wear it to show their pride in church. Also, if they wear them outside of church gatherings, it’s a great way to advertise your community and work.