COVID-19 has been such a valuable opportunity for the church to step up in a hurting world but it has also presented new challenges. The question at the top of our mind has been: How do we continue to be the church and provide in-person services safely?
We developed a comprehensive plan in partnership with our local health department to make sure we are doing our very best to keep our in-person gatherings safe. Our plan was not only approved and supported by the health department, but has been shared as an example for other organizations to follow.
There are three main measures that can help our church function safely: social distancing, masks, and disinfecting high traffic and touch areas. At Church on the Move, we have adapted these core strategies to several different ministry areas of our church.
Here’s how we’re practicing these at Church on the Move:
Social distancing is one of the easiest and most cost-effective safety measures we can take for our church. One way we’ve made this easier to accomplish is by adding additional service times to allow for more room in each service. We encourage at-risk members or anyone who may have come in contact with COVID-19 to attend online at COTM.live.
We believe there is something powerful about gathering together in-person to worship our God and make space for community. For those opportunities and people who are not at high risk themselves or exposing others to COVID-19, gatherings can be conducted safely by keeping families six feet apart as much as possible. Those who live in the same household can stand or sit together in the auditoriums but all rows are spaced six feet apart to help naturally provide the recommended distance. We recommend leaving a few seats open between you and another family.
The second thing that helps keep our members and staff safe in our church ministries is wearing masks. Masks reduce the number of germs you spread through your mouth and nose if worn correctly. If everyone in our building wears masks, especially in the lobbies and hallways, it will reduce the chances of spreading infection. We see masks as a way to show love to our neighbors so we happily oblige.
The third safety method that our church has employed to keep everyone safe is regularly disinfecting all high traffic and high touch surfaces in our building. Our goal is to eliminate the spread of germs between services. We have spaced our service times out during this season to ensure that our teams have ample time to thoroughly clean the building between them.
And of course, we do not allow staff or members to attend ministries in person when experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Kids & Students
All of the policies above and more apply to our kids and students environments as well. Volunteers will always be wearing masks (unless they are on stage and at a safe distance from others) and social distancing as much as possible to help keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have also transitioned to a touch-free checkin process and recommend that only one parent pick up and drop off kids before and after service.
COVID-19 has provided incredible opportunities to innovate within our small group ministry. One of the ways we have adapted our small groups is by creating virtual groups that meet over Zoom or other online avenues, which cuts down on the risks of meeting in person altogether. All small group leaders for our in person groups have been equipped with best practices for making sure these gatherings are still safe and sanitary. Ways they do that include seating that allows for social distancing, avoiding community food-sharing, only serving individual bottled drinks, and wearing masks.