During this time of coronavirus, communication has been a key factor in keeping people connected. As your ministry makes plans to resume normal operations, ongoing communication with your employees, volunteers, and congregation remains an important element. Open communication about what to expect and any changes you plan to implement will help alleviate fear and anxiety. Ask yourself what you’d want to know, if you were a greeter, staff member, elderly church member, etc. Then, develop answers. You’ll soon have a long list of things to say. Here’s some guidance to help you get started.
It’s important to start painting a broad picture of your ministry’s plans for resuming normal operations as soon as possible. With some states lifting shelter-in-place orders in early May, people will have a lot of questions about how to safely gather for church services and community activities. Transparency is key. You don’t have to explain every nuance, but it’s important to provide enough details to reassure each segment of your audience.
Communicate as often as you can, through as many channels as possible. Even if you don’t know all of the answers, it’s important to share what you do know and be honest about what you don’t. When the air is static with questions, few things fuel anxiety more than silence. It’s comforting to know that your leaders are working to address concerns, even if they don’t have solutions yet. More than half of the employees polled in late March said they would like daily coronavirus updates from their employer.*
If you haven’t already, develop a core message. It might reiterate your ministry’s values or mission or simply provide reassurance. Ministry leaders will face numerous hurdles as they strive to resume normal operations. Having a core message helps you to express empathy and support over time.
List each audience you’ll address, along with their information needs. Most ministries have at least three groups: staff, volunteers, and church attendees. While your first message about resuming normal operations may be broad enough for the congregation, successive ones will need to include details tailored to each group of people. Don’t forget to highlight information specific to vulnerable individuals, who are at higher risk for illness from coronavirus.
While details will differ by ministry, most organizations will need to address topics such as scheduling, logistics, sanitation, social distancing, and any changes in their operating procedures. Here are some points to consider for staff, volunteers, and attendees:
If any ministry staff are working from home, it will be helpful for them to have a plan for returning to the office. Some issues to address may include:
You won’t be able to answer every conceivable question. That’s okay. Just do your best to thoughtfully consider the concerns that may come up and address them as best as you can. Every church is trying to figure out how to safely resume meeting together again. You’re in good company. It’s important to stay calm, keep the faith, and stay the course.
Many organizations are developing guidance on how to gather safely for ministry. While reviewing others’ recommendations, keep in mind that every ministry’s circumstances will differ. What works at one church may not be work for yours. Here are some resources that you may find helpful in developing a plan.
CDC – Guidance for Communities and Faith-based Organizations
Coming Back Together After Coronavirushttps://churchjuice.reframemedia.com/blog/coming-back-together-after-coronavirus
24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return
Guidelines: Opening Up America Again – The White House and CDC
* Edelman, Richard. “Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic Survey.” March 30, 2020. https://www.edelman.com/research/covid-19-brand-trust-report. Accessed April 24, 2020.
Posted April 28, 2020
The information provided on this page is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.
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