The threat of the coronavirus has taken us all by storm. The concern is real, and while we are not experts on the subject, we feel the importance of equipping you with what we’ve seen churches do well.
How should you address your congregation? What are the most feasible steps you can take? Seek out wise counsel.
Examples from How Other Churches Are Communicating About Coronavirus
Here are a few examples from other churches you may want to consider as you make plans. Though, please note, these are from the last week and the situation is rapidly changing:
North Point Community Church
Lead pastor Andy Stanley addressed the concern by encouraging the church family to take advantage of online streaming.
If you don’t currently have an online strategy in place, this is a great time to consider implementing one, or improving the one you already have.
Hi North Point,
In light of heightened concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus, I have an unprecedented favor to ask some of you.
Please skip church!
If you’ve been exposed to a person with the coronavirus or the flu or have recently traveled to a CDC Level 2 or 3 country (China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, or Japan), please take a couple of Sundays off. If you or your family members are experiencing or have recently experienced symptoms associated with the flu or the common cold (fever, persistent cough, headache, chills, or unexplained rash), we ask that you take a couple of Sundays off as well.
We’re working hard to ensure our environments are clean and safe for you and your family. We take the following steps every week to prevent the spread of germs:
- Staff and volunteers follow hand-washing procedures and children are instructed to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating.
- Volunteers follow posted safe and sanitary diaper-changing procedures.
- Hand sanitizer is located throughout our building.
- Staff remove children from the classroom if they appear to be sick. Parents are immediately paged to pick them up.
Thanks ahead of time for your cooperation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Willow Creek Community Church
People want reassurance. Willow Creek shares the ways they are going to prevent spreading germs and make the weekend experience as safe and secure for those desiring to attend in person—
We’ve been closely tracking the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) both locally and globally. As you’re likely aware, there are numerous confirmed cases in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. While we know this virus is primarily spread through close contact, we want to take precautionary measures to create a safe and healthy environment for us all to gather and worship. Before we get into the details of the plans, I want to speak first to our posture as Christ followers.
For many, the spread of this virus has caused fear and anxiety. Scripture is clear that God has given us a spirit of love, not fear. My prayer is that we would sense peace in the midst of these circumstances. This does not mean we should be careless or reactionary; rather, may we work together to serve our church and community in a way that demonstrates trust in our God who is in control.
Secondly, many Asians and Asian Americans, including those in our church family, have experienced an increased level of discrimination since this virus emerged. This is wrong and deeply contrary to the heart of the gospel. To those who have experienced this, we are truly sorry, and we stand with you. We all have a chance to speak against hatred and stereotyping, and I pray that God would use us in that way.
We have a staff team that is monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is partnering with local officials and medical professionals to formulate a preparedness plan. This plan will change and adjust based on the updates we receive, but as of March 6, 2020, here are the precautions we are taking to increase health measures and mitigate the spread of germs.
Baptism is a sacred part of our faith journey, and we will hold Baptism at our South Barrington campus this weekend. We have made the necessary investments to improve the water quality of our baptismal pool system to make it a safer experience.
We recommend that you give your tithe and offering online. We will not pass offering baskets during the service but will have them available on the way out of the auditorium.
We will not pass Communion trays when we observe the sacrament at weekend services, Midweek services, and the Practice. We will provide prepacked, individually wrapped Communion elements.
To minimize your need to touch door handles, our volunteer teams will hold exterior doors open to greet you.
When we have a time of greeting during services, we recommend you greet each other with smiles and waves instead of handshakes.
PROMISELAND AND SPECIAL FRIENDS
Volunteers are committed to wiping down check-in surfaces between all services with disinfectant wipes. We are also making hand sanitizer more readily available throughout our building.
If you find yourself feeling sick, we encourage you to join us digitally on WillowCreek.TV. We stream live at 5:30 p.m.on Saturdays and 9 & 11:15 a.m. on Sundays.
We encourage you to take some time to understand proper prevention measures to avoid spreading the virus by reading through the CDC recommendations here.
Here are some of the basic measures listed on the CDC website:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
We will provide necessary updates to you via email and post them on willowcreek.org. I ask that you be prayerful for our world and community, specifically for those who are directly impacted by this virus.
Copyright 2020 Willow Creek Community Church, All rights reserved.
While the pastor expresses legitimate concern for this issue, the tools are shared in a light-hearted way, bringing levity during a time of concern.
Hosting Services Online
If you don’t usually offer your services live online, you may find yourself scrambling. Here are links to a few practical guides for getting started in a pinch:
- Live Streaming Setup for Small Churches – Churchfront.com
- Streaming Your Church Services to Facebook Live and More – Church Tech Today
Leading in Crisis
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Tony wrote an address to church leaders this morning about leading in crisis. I hope you’ll check that out, too. He shared this Scripture there, and I’ll share it again here:
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”John 14:27, NLT