It was surprisingly easy to shut down our Sunday morning worship programs at the Church. I made several phone calls, sent out an email, and received responses, and finally, the government made the call to have a required lockdown. Once it was decided, we sent out a text and email to notify everyone, posted on social media, and updated the website. The final step was to put together a plan for how to keep worshipping at home. It took two stress-filled weeks, and everything was set for what proved to be the next three months.
Now we are heading back to worship, and it is much more difficult to restart than to quit. Every week we are facing new questions and challenges.
- People Got Out of the Habit of Weekly Church. Our Church watched the stats fairly close and noticed an interesting trend. The first month we didn’t meet, people watched the video of worship on Sunday morning. The second month we saw it move to sometime on Sunday. The third month it was viewed some day during the week. Basically, the same number of views, but slowly they moved away from Sunday morning worship time. Now, people are out of the habit of regular Sunday morning worship, and we are starting from scratch with some families.
- How Do We Care for the Most Vulnerable? There is still a considerable concern for our elderly, infants, and those with illnesses. These conditions make them vulnerable to Covid-19. As a result, we must continue to practice proper sterilization and safety for them. We know many people do not need the measures we are using, but some do, and we are called to care about those who are the most vulnerable.
- Children’s Ministries are the Most Difficult. Providing ministry for children is a massive part of what we do each week. This group is also the least cautious. There is no social distancing with a five-year-old. We want to provide ministry and are taking every safety precaution, but there is only so much we can do. Without children’s ministries, it makes it difficult for some families to attend.
- Our Timing Could Not Be Worse. Restarting in the summer is not a dream situation. June is always our lowest attendance month of the year. Not to mention, we have Father’s Day, which is one of the three lowest attendance days of the year. It is followed by the fourth of July happening on a Saturday. Because of work shut down and vacation, that is one of the top two worst attendance days of the year. Reopening in the middle of June is tough, knowing that for the first four weeks, people will already be busy. Couple that with number one, and it makes a perfect storm.
- The Unknown is Making Things More Difficult. The number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise. So will we be forced to shut down again? Should we take more precautions? Should more people continue to stay at home? The Lord only knows.
I know this is frustrating for a Church member, but know it is equally exasperating for me as a pastor. The Church leadership and I are doing everything we can to keep things moving forward. This is true, no matter where you attend. Keep praying. Keep yourself safe. And in everything, may God be glorified.