Shepherding the Church in a time of pandemic is a delicate balancing act. You want to move forward in faith, encouraging the congregation to trust in the Lord and be bold in worship and service. At the same time, you want to caution the flock from provoking the Lord through our own carelessness and lack of regard for others.
The elders of my congregation met last night to discuss how best to continue the ministry of our Church as the Coronavirus Pandemic progresses. We struggled with balancing our desire to be together as the body of Christ in worship, fellowship, and service with the need to protect the flock entrusted to us by the Lord. We do not want to operate from a spirit of fear and timidity; but trusting in the providence of God, we want to move forward responsibly and cautiously.
I thought I would share the following recommendations from our elders here to show what we are doing to move forward in faith:
- Members may choose to worship in person, but we ask that they be responsible and consider the needs of others by maintaining a safe distance and reducing contact as much as possible.
- High risk members (65/older or immune compromised), are asked stay home and join us for worship on Cable or YouTube.
- Those who are in any way feeling unwell (fever, cough, body aches), are urged to stay home, letting the Elders and Deacons know how we can minister to them.
- The Church will continue with a “Touchless” Worship Service. We have removed the pew Bibles and hymnals, as all lyrics will be on the screen, and members are encouraged to bring their own Bible. Pews will be marked off so that those in attendance will be encouraged to sit a safe distance apart.
- The offering plate will not be passed during the service, but those attending are encouraged to place their offering in the plate before or after the service, and those at home to may give as best they can (bring to the church, mail, or online donation).
- No nursery will be provided during worship, and parents of young children are asked to ensure that their children stay with them at all times.
- Sunday School will continue to be offered online through Facebook each Sunday morning for the children, and via Zoom with Pastor Sayler for the adults at 11:00 am.
- There will be no Fellowship Time or in-person Sunday School following worship until further notice.
The elders want to assure the Church that we are working to keep the building clean by wiping down the pews, door handles and other furniture after every service. Masks are encouraged for those who attend in person, but not required. In all things, the elders ask our members to use their best judgment and to consider the needs of others when deciding to come in person.
We are mindful that the Church is never closed because the Church is not a building, it is the people of God. We shared in thanksgiving to God that even in these troubling times the Lord has supplied for the needs of the Church through the continued financial and spiritual support of her members. There have been moments of great blessing in the midst of this crisis, showing God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.
We continue to pray for the day when we can encourage everyone to attend in-person, but realize that returning to a sense of normal in the Church is not like flipping a light switch, but more like turning a dimmer. We will slowly, cautiously, and prayerfully restart the ministries of the Church as the Spirit leads us in wisdom and discernment.
I’d be interested in hearing how your church are responding to the Coronavirus, and what their plans are for moving forward. Leave your comments below.
Grace and peace,