With this reality in mind, it is important for each church and especially the leaders of our churches to consider wisely the recommendation from our Governor in particular and the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 situation in general. While the government must speak in very broad terms, each of you, as church leaders, have the capacity to consider and speak in quite specific terms regarding your own congregations. This is your responsibility as leaders. I want to implore you to use wisdom and discernment during this time. Take seriously the circumstances around this virus and its spread. Your church should have already taken steps to protect members and guests from any potential harm. If you have not, that should be your next action. This may entail extraordinary action regarding sanitizing public areas, especially childcare spaces, restrooms, and gathering spaces. It may mean adding additional options for handwashing or hand sanitizing. It might include suspending handshaking or other communal times that involve personal contact. It could also entail changes in how the Lord’s Supper or the offering is handled. It should probably involve suspending food or drink distribution for the foreseeable future. Certainly, you should be communicating to attendees to consider staying at home if they are sick or if they are in high-risk categories. For those, this might also be a good time to launch a simple live stream of your service. Tell all to take every personal precaution regarding hygiene (including handwashing, protective coughing, and avoiding touching the face).
As you consider these important steps, I also want to encourage you to consider the makeup of your congregation. One factor to consider is whether the majority of your congregants are in at-risk categories. The elderly and those with preexisting health conditions (especially respiratory and heart) are at greatest risk. If the majority of those attending services fall into one or both of these categories, then you should weigh that in your decision. Also, if your church does not have the capacity or manpower to take necessary steps as mentioned above to assure a clean and sanitary environment, then you should weigh that in your decision as well. Essentially, you should prayerfully and wisely discern the best next steps for your flock in the days to come.
Finally, I want to encourage you, as church leaders, to see this as an opportunity for strong leadership, wise action, and prayer. This is a time for us to show confidence in the provision and protection of the Lord in a season of fear and anxiety. As Jesus’ people, we are by nature an incarnational people. Presence in times of trouble provides a critical display of the Gospel. Just be faithful as God leads you. Please know that your associational leadership and I are here to provide support however we can and do not hesitate to reach out if we can help you process these important decisions.
Trusting Christ together,
Todd Robertson, your AMS