Meeting again after COVID-19: one church’s plan
Our aim is to make sure all feel safe and comfortable to return. This will differ from church to church and situation to situation.
Anxious to reopen your church and gather together again? Me too. We all are. I believe the most important principle that every church will have to consider is how to honor the social distancing principles provided by the CDC and recommended by state and government officials. For any church to gather again on a Sunday morning, each church will need to start here and gradually lift these restrictions as circumstances allow.
Here is how our pastors have wrestled through how to apply these principles in such a way that everyone who chooses to attend will feel safe and their own personal space will be honored.
Our church context
We are a church of 75 members with 60 – 70 in attendance on a normal Sunday. And yet we have a sanctuary that has a capacity of 300 people. This means we would be able to meet on a Sunday morning and apply all the appropriate social distancing practices that our state officials are requesting of us.
With the intent of honoring these restrictions, which we assume will still be asked of us once churches are encouraged to gather again, here are a few guidelines we will seek to apply that first Sunday:
- Our main goal is to be physically present together for our normal Sunday morning gatherings and monthly member’s meetings.
- There will be no Sunday school in the beginning.
- There will be no nursery and child-care during the morning gathering or member’s meetings until we feel it is safe to do so.
- We will have sections of the pews roped off to provide social distancing standards and to encourage us to spread out around the sanctuary.
- We will dedicate an entire side of pews for those over 60 or whose health is compromised, but wish to attend.
- The Lord’s supper will be prepared by one deacon with proper protection.
- The Lord’s supper will be administered by 2 deacons wearing proper protection.
- Two deacons will pass the offering plate and serve the Lord’s supper. No plates will be passed (we will consider a box in the back for offering and no Lord’s Supper if needed).
- We will enter and exit through the front doors only (fellowship hall entrance for those who need the elevator or the upper outside front stairs).
- We will ask everyone to honor social distancing while in the sanctuary interacting with others as well as in the parking lot.
- A mask is not required, but will be encouraged for those who fall into the more vulnerable category.
- We will ask all parents to keep their children with them at all times in your appointed pew space before and after the service. We love the children hanging out and running around the sanctuary enjoying one another as parents talk. However, we will not be able to start there once we reconvene but hope to move back there as restrictions lift.
- We will stream the service on Facebook live for those still uncomfortable attending or for families concerned about children sitting through the full service.
- Knowing little children will be in the service, we will shorten our normal 75-minute service to 50 – 60 minutes.
- Only restrooms will be accessible outside the sanctuary area.
- We will dismiss rows after the service concludes and leave through the front doors.
- After everyone has exited, a cleaning crew will stay and disinfect the areas we used to prepare for next Sunday.
We realize this may sound like a bit much, but we would rather over prepare and lighten some of these restricts than return to gather together ill-prepared or make certain folks feel unsafe.
Our aim is to make sure all feel safe and comfortable to return. This will differ from church to church and situation to situation, and we have received helpful feedback from members of our congregation, but this is how we’ve decided to move forward.