As you plan to reopen your church, you must be crystal clear in your communication with your congregation. They need to know exactly what to expect, for their safety, and for that of the broader community. Of course, every church is unique in how and when they’ll reopen, so use these details listed here as a guideline for your own communication. Here are the key elements to include.
1. Cleaning procedures
Share exactly how you’re cleaning and sanitizing the church during and in between services. Many churches have redefined the roles of their volunteers and staff to include sanitizing pews or sanctuary chairs,door handles, and other durable surfaces before, during, and after services.
Upfront communication provides people with peace of mind and proper expectations when they physically come back to church. Knowing that church staff will clean the bathrooms after each use or a volunteer will open the doors so that no one else touches the handle will help ensure everyone follows the safety rules you’ve set in place.
2. Service times and capacity
Inform people of the changes you’re making to your service schedule. Many churches are adding an extra Sunday service or a few Saturday services because they’re limiting how many people can attend each.
Using easyTithe, you can create a form that allows people to sign up for specific services, limiting the number of attendees per service. Embed the form on your website and include the link for people to sign up on social media, emails, and other places you reach your congregation online.
3. Seating arrangements
Give people an idea of what it will be like when they arrive. Will you have ushers guiding families to sit in specific areas? Should they expect to receive a seating chart via email? Will there be visual markers on the ground for people to stand on as they enter to ensure they’re 6 feet apart?
Some churches are indicating which doors are entrance only and exit only to support social distancing guidelines. Whatever your plan is, lay it out for people, so they know what to expect before arrival.
4. Check-in policy
Many churches are adopting check-in for families and individuals to help in case there’s ever a need for contact tracing and to ensure seating stays at the capacity intended. There are a few ways to do this.
- You can have a volunteer manually check people in from a safe distance
- You can ask attendees to use their phone to show their confirmation email
- Attendees can scan your church app’s QR code
5. Attendee requirements
Let people know what is required of them before they come to a service. Share guidelines like staying 6 feet apart from those that aren’t part of your family and replace physical greetings like hugs and handshakes with hand-waving.
Many churches are encouraging people to use their phones for a touchless offering by texting a gift or using your mobile app, rather than passing around an offering plate that could act as a vector for germs. During the appropriate time in your service, make sure to display on-screen the text giving number and leave it up for longer than you’d think so your people can continue to be generous. If you’re temporarily removing Bibles, hymnals, and note cards from the seats, encourage them to bring their own or use a mobile Bible app.
6. Online service options
For those that aren’t ready to physically come back to church, make sure you provide the option to watch your live stream or recording. And include your online giving option, so they know how to participate during the offering moment. Remember, not everyone is going to be confident about coming back to church, especially if they’re higher risk. Let people know that it’s okay to participate from home!
With so many unique changes taking place, you’ll want to over-communicate your plan. The more people that are in-the-know, the smoother every service will be.
Get more helpful information and tips by watching Reopening Church: Touchless Tech for a Safer Reopening.