Post by Lynn Costa
Working in NYC has been a true challenge. Somewhere around the end of March, we were told that coming into the office would be impossible and the new challenge became figuring out how to effectively support 350 employees who were working in the city streets, working from home and working in an office building.
Two months later, we continue to focus on keeping employees safe and well, but our attention has turned to June 15th, and the beginning of the return of employees to NYC. It’s a scary proposition, but the process we’re using has uncovered some interesting approaches that might be utilized as we think through what church will be in this future world with COVID-19. Here are some of the things we’re talking about:
Create an RTC (Return to Church) team. Part of the process has meant bringing together the owners in the “returning process”. Bring together a Return to Church team; church member “experts” who can think about the return from all of its angles including worship, stewardship, Christian education, finance, facilities, etc.
Some things don’t need to return. We’ve learned a lot about what we can and can’t do from home. And there are lots of things we can do from home! What if virtual church continued on a biweekly schedule, maybe twice per month? What if Session meetings continued on Zoom? What if Bible study or learning groups continued on Microsoft Teams? How about virtual committee meetings? Many of these gatherings can continue virtually until there’s more consistency in our system.
Create informational and directional assistance. Changing church culture can be a slow boat to turn, and anything that assists with the change will be welcomed. Signage, floor and pew spacing (6 ft distancing) and information in a “welcome back to church” packet can provide written guidelines for worship, information on new virtual programs, updates, hand sanitizer and a mask for church-goers.
Cleaning is a must. We all have an answer to this, and a cleaning process in place, but what will need to be done, now that COVID-19 is a regular concern? If you hold two services on a Sunday, how will you clean in between? Or does the early service need to be virtual and the later service located at church? How will pews and common areas be cleaned? This of course, can be an additional burden on both the facilities team and the budget.
Communicate. A lot. Letting the church community know what’s going on is critical. Even though the full plan may not be realized, letting the church family know what steps are in place, what and when things may happen and the changes they can begin to expect, will assist with the process getting us back to our new normal. And it needs to be a constant, weekly update.
There are no easy answers. But with planning and discussion, we can find solutions that help us learn and flex and deal with our new normal church lives.