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Pastor How (Tan Seow How)   pastorhow instagram
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Stay connected
Pastor How (Tan Seow How)
pastorhow instagram
Pastor Lia (Cecilia Chan)
pastorlia instagram
Heart of God Church (Singapore)
hogc instagram

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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.

The next 2 areas to think about are SENTIMENTS and the SCATTERED church. I’ve written about them in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

Lastly, @pastor.lia also posted about “What To Do In A Crisis”. Do check it out.

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.)

COVID-19 Precautionary Measures | Heart of God Church

If you would like to find out more about our COVID-19 precautionary measures, visit this page.


  1. Celeste says:

    Wow, there’s so much truth to this article! Considering the different scenarios and having sustainability in our plans definitely made the HOGC on air services a success. Thank you SP for this great foresight.. and yes #HOGCdecentralised, bring it on!

  2. Joya says:

    Love the part about having contingency plans and not going full-nuclear from the very start! So blessed to have Pastors who not just think far ahead into the future, but they also have such a heart to bless others! Pastor How wrote this series of articles over 1 weekend simply because he knew many countries esp in US and Europe were hard-hit by the virus and the churches there were scrambling to adapt to a lockdown, so he wanted to share whatever learnings we had. So so moved how this series was done out of a pure heart to help churches around the world!

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