Opening Up Our Churches After Coronavirus – An Early View

Dennis W. Watkins, Legal Counsel for the Church of God, offers the following guidelines concerning the re-opening of churches amid he Covid-19 pandemic.

I am writing this article and providing resources as an early attempt to assist our churches in opening back up after what seems to be a lengthy halt from normal church activity and life. Realistically, we all know that life after this will not be the same and that by necessity, we are approaching church involvement in an entirely new way.

The patterns that are forming and that will be carried out in church involvement now certainly are fluid and will vary significantly from place to place. An important question now is:
“Where do you live?” Each state has its own set of guidelines and timetables relating to renewal of activity and even those guidelines are fluid. Some of these guidelines are being promulgated by county or local authorities. There simply is no “one-size fits all” solution, but I am going to cite you to some good resources I already have seen and to point out some simple steps that I think should be considered. I also should point out that it may be necessary to update this article and resources as time goes on.

With resources that are available at the end of this article in mind as a background, I will offer my own checklist. I will call it “S-T-A-R-T”

S – Sanitize – As you read all the resources, the first requirement mentioned is to sanitize your church and to be able to provide verification of that sanitization. Some resources say that you should have your church professionally cleaned, if possible. People returning to church will be vitally concerned about sanitization. One resource states that you should even make sure your church smells clean!

T – Team – I am seeing recommendations that there should be a dedicated cleaning team which will be ongoing, and which will see keeping the church cleaned and sanitized as a ministry, almost like a safety or security team.

A – Assess – Be sure to correctly assess your state/county/local guidelines and requirements, and to comply with them. As mentioned earlier, this is going to vary from state to state and possibly from locale to locale. We are seeing recommendations regarding the use of masks and gloves, social distancing, testing, and contact tracing. These requirements should be considered, as well as possibly allowing attendance at services in shifts and not all at once.

R – Reassess – As we all know, it is going to be necessary to reassess our methods of worship and contact among our constituency. Many churches already have navigated into online worship and live-streaming of services, and many of these new methods will continue to be utilized. There are some good guidelines regarding this in the above materials.

T – Think – Think outside the old box. It will be necessary to continually think about new ways to incorporate church when people cannot come to the church. Online giving will have to continue and new methods of keeping church community will have to continue. There will be some people who simply will not be comfortable coming to church on site; therefore, you will need to be able to accommodate their needs.

There are some very helpful resources which I have found offered by some of our pastors and churches. They can be accessed by clicking here:

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