Coronavirus: How Should Churches Respond?
Close or Continue—Is There A Better Option?
Length: 3-minute read
Many of my friends, especially from Europe, Australia and USA, have been texting me about how HOGC decentralised in this unprecedented time. I guess here in Asia we have the unwelcomed benefit of being hit with this reality a few weeks earlier. So as you are making decisions now, these are some of our thought processes.
There are 4 areas to be considered: SUSTAINABILITY, SCENARIOS, SENTIMENTS and the SCATTERED church.
Your plans must be Sustainable, so don’t hold your breath. It is not going to be weeks but months, possibly longer. Nobody knows. Just going online alone is not the best solution for HOGC, so we decided to opt for meeting in small groups and watching the online services together. We call this #HOGCdecentralised and we can go on for months this way. Bring it on!
Your plans cannot just keep the church circling in a holding pattern indefinitely because you will eventually run out of fuel.
You should have 3 to 4 levels of contingency plans so that you can implement the plan that fits your current situation and sentiments. For example:
Level 1: Worst case – no personal contact—only online.
Level 2: Small groups – for us, it’s watching HOGC On Air together.
Level 3: Zones – meet to watch HOGC On Air in groups of <100 or <250 depending on your government’s advisory.
Level 4: In-person service – broadcast to multiple venues of <250 or <500 or <1000 simultaneously or same venue at different times.
I am sure there are other solutions to the above. The main point is that your plans should not be limited to a binary close-or-continue church.
Therefore, you cannot go for the nuclear option from the start (unless you are in Italy or South Korea). One thing I have learnt is that the COVID-19 situation is so fluid, it changes every day. So you need to have different levers to pull in different scenarios.
Know any pastors or church leaders who might find this helpful? Here’s a link you can share with them: pastor.how/covid-pt1.
P.S. In this little post, I shall not belabor the point about personal hygiene, precautionary measures like temperature screenings, travel declarations etc. It should be the standard procedure for all churches.
(Here’s what we did.)
If you would like to find out more about our COVID-19 precautionary measures, visit this page.