I’d like to think we know a little more about COVID19 from the time it broke out. As governments issue statements make plans for the growing epidemic, churches aren’t exempt. Because we’re about people and a significant part of living out our faith is in gathering. So how does a church know that it has done enough. I thought a very basic COVID19 response checklist might help get you started in some way.
Up front: I’m no health or emergency response expert and neither is anyone at ChurchMag. We want to raise awareness and encourage churches to think about what to do. When we published this first post and this second post we got mixed reactions from church staff and leaders.
Some said we were being alarmist. Others thanked us for raising something they hadn’t considered or planned for. There are still some lingering question for a lot of us. For example: As a church have we done enough for our congregants? Have we empowered our congregants to be light?
No doubt there’s a lot of misinformation. Make sure you’re not part of the problem. Vet information and sources as best as you can before hitting forward or share. Make sure you have access to trustworthy sources. And, only share information from them.
Oh! Consider what this information may mean for you, as a church and a call to action for congregants. One of the best ways of using is knowing what to do with it.
Have you reached out to the health and emergency institutions in your state? Do you have access to updates in real time? It might be a good idea to get that in place.
You need Realtime information to make decisions and communicate them in real time. These touch on what you could do to stay informed.
You will also want to make sure authorities and congregants can communicate with you. How do people in your community reach you or share information with you?
There’s no way you can lead and or serve your church and community without communication. Some churches have issued carefully drafted statements. Some leaders used their personal social media accounts to reiterate or amplify the message.
Every church must be clear about what and how they communicate. This is one of the reasons why having a church communications team and / systems is important. A church management system can help you keep track of contact details and where people live.
It can also help with sending texts, emails and such.
3. Church Life
“Just stream” or “go online” quips aren’t helpful. I’m not saying that they aren’t good ideas. What I mean is that it will be more than that. Simple streaming isn’t an adequate approach but only a small part of it. How does it fit into something broader?
For example, do you have in place for people to “connect”. How do you manage people who want to respond or engage with the message, for example? Have you factored in the need to have pastoral care shift online? How will you make sure those who need prayer can ask and receive it in a way that doesn’t expose them?
Ease of Putting Online vs. Ecclesiological/Relational Significance
I don't know who needs to see this totally unscientific, very simplified, and overly reductionistic illustration, but I hope it can start a conversation for how with think about online services. pic.twitter.com/B9CkYc0VcA
— Jᴏʜɴ Dʏᴇʀ (@johndyer) March 12, 2020
Life Church’s Church Online Platform and others provide a way for this. So when choosing platforms you use, think beyond a Facebook or YouTube stream. Think about the other aspects of the gathering that you might be taking away, which you need to plan for?
If your church has physical gathering, do you know what to do if someone is displaying symptoms? Do you have adequate quarantine procedures and means to get the help needed?
What about the extra hygiene measures such as cleaning surfaces? Adequate soap and hand sanitizers in the building FTW.
4. Love your neighbor
This. Love your neighbor. https://t.co/vGittIInb0
— ChurchMag (@ChurchMag) March 15, 2020
No matter how confident you are about not being infected. Think of others. What about them in the event that you catch something. A big part of this basic COVID19 response checklist is making sure you have practical means to love your neighbours. Stir your church to love. Have people commit to check in on each other. Take meals to those who need them, and any other care.
This goes for people who might not belong to or attend our church, but our wider communities.
In The End
The details are important and what’s missing. This basic outline for the COVID19 response checklist is just a very broad outline:
- Have in place a way for church life to continue
- Know what’s going on and have ways to be informed.
- Communicate clearly and often with your church and community
- How will you love your neighbors?