By Curtis Simmons

Urgent Tips to Prepare Your Church for the Impact of Coronavirus

Prepare Your Church Immediately for Coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is now spreading rapidly within the United States with 69,000+ cases as of March 26th (Source). Large gatherings are considered among the riskiest places for spreading the coronavirus. Major companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple are requiring employees to work from home. Universities are closing their campuses and moving classes online. And national sporting events and seasons are being suspended or canceled entirely.

This means your church, and churches all across America, must be prepared to take action immediately to slow the spread of this pandemic.

Amid extreme measures of caution in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, many churches are closing temporarily, while attempting to continue to care for members and maintain community services.

 

Keeping Your Church Open Despite Coronavirus

Stephen Ko, senior pastor at New York Chinese Alliance Church, and formerly a CDC medical officer and professor of global health at Boston University says, “The church must lead in love rather than be manipulated by stigma. We are called to provide compassion instead of cowering in fear. Churches must trust sound theology, science, and public health instead of succumbing to rumors and hysteria from social media. Denominations, churches, and believers can play a vital role during outbreaks, epidemics, and other diseases.” (Source)

If your church does decide to stay open, please take these precautions:

  • Encourage faith over fear. Your congregants need reassuring.
  • Develop a strategy and communication plan if the need to close your church arises (i.e., someone in your congregation is diagnosed with coronavirus or your community is hard hit).
  • Exercise extreme sanitation of hard surfaces.
  • Encourage congregants to stay home if they feel unwell (i.e., dry cough, fever, aches).
  • Restrict “meet and greet” hugs and handshakes to smiles only.
  • Offer antibacterials and encourage their use for hands and smartphones. (Source)
  • Forego hymnals. If you can’t project lyrics, sing old favorites that everybody knows by heart.
  • Temporarily stop using offering plates or communion trays.
    • Opt for disposable, prefilled communion cups with wafers rather than the traditional communion tray.
    • Encourage online giving to protect individuals from the offering plate and your staff’s exposure to coins. (Source)

Stay in contact with those who decide to self-isolate or avoid church services, especially the elderly, who are the most vulnerable. Pray with and for those struggling with fear or illness, even if you must do so over the phone.

Closing Your Church Due to Coronavirus

If you make the tough decision or are required by the local authorities to close the church temporarily, be cognizant of the fear, uncertainty and doubt this can have on your congregants.

Understanding that fear and isolation are enemies of the church’s mission, it’s in times like these that technology shines brightest. As you navigate the crisis, it’s more important than ever to communicate with every member of your congregation. Reach out to them regularly with updates and encouragement via email, social media and your website.

Streaming services and online communities can help churches minister even if the doors are closed. (Source) If your church doesn’t already offer live streaming, find a way to communicate, even if you must deliver your sermon via Facebook Live.

The Importance of Online Giving for Churches, During and Beyond a Crisis

The coronavirus scare has also prompted Thom Rainer, former president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, to advise churches to “aggressively encourage people to use digital giving.” (Source) He’s right. In many ways, online giving is perfect for such a time as this, proactively minimizing exposure to infection while helping churches maintain balance when crisis strikes.

Even the World Health Organization recommends using digital payments when possible. The agency stated that it is “advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.” (Source)

But it’s not just during (or for) a major crisis like coronavirus that churches should implement online giving. Digital options for giving through your website or through text giving make giving possible and convenient during normal attendance ebbs and flows.

Online giving can help keep giving rates level and make it easier for churches to maintain their budgets in the face of attendance shifts due to:

  • National weekly attendance rates of 23% (even those who love your church may attend only once or twice a month) (Source)
  • An aging population and an increasing percentage of elderly who find it difficult to attend regularly
  • The possibility of future infectious outbreaks

Whether they attend regularly or not, online givers tend to give larger gifts than they do in person. Even more surprising, if your online giving software allows them to schedule recurring gifts, they will, on average, give 42% more in one year than those who give one-time gifts. (Source)

And with online giving, your offering doesn’t have to be limited to those who have sat in your pews. With the growth of streaming services and social media, there’s no limit to the worldwide influence you can have and the generosity that can generate from far and wide.

But especially in this time of national and international crisis, as markets shift and nearly every type of organization faces financial instability, online giving (especially scheduled recurring gifts) helps churches weather at least one aspect of the storm.

Vision2 Is Here to Help

Vision2 is a comprehensive giving platform that helps churches connect with their congregation in the same engaging, welcoming way they would in person.

Please contact us if you would like to learn how we can help your church reach its full giving potential. No contract, no monthly fees, and no limits on giving means no limits to your growth.