Congregations everywhere are looking forward to reopening their doors and beginning live services at churches again. Much of the world has been brought to a near standstill to combat COVID-19 through social distancing. Some regions are starting to relax the stay-at-home orders. The anticipation of worshipping together means plans are necessary that adapt to how church services are conducted.
Disinfecting the Building
Once social distancing restrictions have been lifted, pastors must begin implementing steps to sanitize the entire building. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined requirements for proper cleaning. Churches need to clean and disinfect pews, rostrum furniture, electronic equipment, microphones, and AV aids, in addition to restrooms and wash areas. In Sabbath School rooms, disinfect all chairs, tables, and teaching aids. If your church has athletic equipment, including playground structures, these should be disinfected as well. The CDC also recommends replacing the filters on all air conditioning units to ensure the flow of clean air into the building.
Churches should temporarily remove hymnals and Bibles from the backrest of the pews and consider using an AV display to project hymns and other information. If you have not previously done this in your church, please be sure you have the necessary licenses to avoid violating copyright law.
Seating arrangements in the sanctuary should be temporarily changed to keep social distancing in place. This can be done by marking which areas are available for seating and which are not. Some churches already have signs or cords that are used to indicate seating during Communion. If you don’t, you may use stickers, placards, or ribbons. Ensure that worshippers enter through one door and exit through another to minimize people coming in close contact in doorways
Consider implementing two short services with an interval in between to limit the number of worshippers at one given service. During the break time, have volunteers clean the sanctuary, lobby, restrooms, and other high-use areas. Encourage members to give their offerings online and refrain from passing the offering plate. Instead, place a collection box at a designated spot and have one of the deacons monitor it throughout the day.
Using a central microphone on the rostrum is preferable to passing a handheld mic back and forth. The rostrum area and the microphones should be cleaned after each service. To regulate the flow of people out of the sanctuary, assign the deacons to dismiss worshippers by rows. It is also recommended that the pastor not stand at the door to greet everyone as they file out of the sanctuary.