Before We Gather

Check back often for articles and videos as your ministry continues to move forward during this time of coronavirus. Read the latest on children’s ministry, social distancing, communication, and more.

What's Your Facility Game Plan?

We asked Tim Cool, chief solutions officer with Smart Church Solutions, to share some quick tips to minimize the spread of germs and to help with social distancing in different areas of your building.

Prep Entrances

General Cleaning

Prep Gathering Spaces

Prep Sanctuary

Prep Restrooms

Preparing Children's Check-In

Preparing Children's Area

Preparing the Nursery

Additional Resources

Updated August 2021:

  • OSHA Releases Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 Vaccines for large employers

    On November 5, 2021, OSHA published the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) which requires employers with more than 100 employees to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. 

  • President's Announcement about Vaccine Mandate for Employers Generates Questions

    This rule for employers with 100+ employees has generated many questions from ministries since it was first announced on September 9, 2021. Most of these will have to wait for answers until the actual requirement is published. Ministry leaders should actively monitor the development of this “vaccine mandate” and consider how they may need to respond.

  • CDC Issues Updated Guidance for Camps: 3 Things to Know

    Camps across the nation are opening their screen doors and welcoming campers once again. New CDC guidance for youth summer camps offers hope for a fun-filled, Gospel-filled season.

  • Camp Food Service Amid COVID-19

    How to get your camp kitchen and dining hall ready for Summer 2021 amid COVID-19. Here are some safety measures to consider. 

  • Inviting the World to Your Virtual Meetings

    Virtual platforms have transformed how we meet with colleagues around the world. They also have made us vulnerable to new risks. Here are seven steps you can take to improve the privacy of your next online meeting.

  • Vaccinations: Responding to Religious Exemption Requests from Attendees

    You may be asked by an attendee to write a letter to their employer as supporting documentation or to sign off on a religious objection to immunizations waiver form. Before you do so consider this important question: Does your church have sincerely held beliefs against vaccines or immunizations?

  • Delta variant brings masking back to forefront

    As COVID-19 rates begin to rise across the country, due in part to the Delta variant, church leaders may be wondering what measures to bring back to keep their people safe.

  • How COVID-19 Vaccines May Affect Schools

    As COVID-19 vaccines become more available across the country, you may be wondering what it means for your school. This article provides a primer on the vaccine so you can make decisions on how best to protect your people.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Basics

    As COVID-19 vaccines become more available across the country, you may be wondering what it means for your organization. This article provides a primer on the vaccine so you can make decisions on how best to protect your people.

  • Digital Discipleship in an Age of Disruption

    Ministries that leverage technology will not only be well-positioned in a growing digital landscape, but will likely be better equipped to handle unexpected disruptions. Learn how using the right tools can help protect the safety and security of your online ministry.

  • Online Ministry: Taking Church Beyond Brick and Mortar

    Online ministry is a growing trend among Christian ministries. Discover how developing the right plans can help your church reach a new generation for Christ.

  • Supreme Court Rules Against Size Restrictions for Church Gatherings

    Houses of worship in NY, CO, and NJ received relief from what they say was a targeted executive order imposing harsh and unequal restrictions on in-person gatherings during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read how the Supreme Court justices came to their decision.

  • Coronavirus: Sample Health Screening Checklist and Waiver Form

    The Sample Health Screening Checklist and Required Coronavirus Supplemental Release waiver are designed to help ministries develop screening procedures that help protect your ministry and its people.

  • Avoid Unmasking an OSHA Violation

    When it comes to keeping employees safe, OSHA governs occupational safety standards—including COVID-19 exposure. Can employees can file a claim if you fail to protect them?

  • Planning a Low Risk Festive Fall Event

    Many fall traditions, such as hayrides and trunk-or-treat events, are being discouraged this year due to the novel coronavirus. If your ministry decides to host an event, it’s important to take precautions. 

  • Guidelines for Setting Up a Temporary Virtual Learning Site

    If your ministry has the desire and capability to provide temporary virtual learning supervision, you should consider the following points to protect your people and the children in your care.

  • Get On The Bus

    If your school or ministry operates buses or vans to transport students or attendees, you’ll need a plan to protect drivers and riders from contagious respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

  • Mold and Legionella Lurk in Unused Buildings

    If any parts of your church, school, camp, or college campuses have been unoccupied over the past few months, you’ll want to review these preventive measures as you work to wipe microbial health hazards before you gather again.

  • COVID+ and your Ministry: Tracking and Tracing

    In January, the thought of taking attendance for your church service or having people register in advance to attend a service was almost unheard of. Today, however, ministry teams are doing both.

  • To Sing or Not to Sing

    As ministry leaders make plans for in-person services, the issue of singing has been an unexpected outcrop of the COVID-19 virus. Your ministry may be weighing whether worship singing is safe, when to allow it, and how.

  • Think Creatively to Maximize Your Children's Ministry Activities

    Not quite ready to bring the children’s ministry and activities back to your facility? Many churches are rethinking this area of ministry as they review state and community recommendations for safely resuming kid’s activities while continuing to flatten the curve of coronavirus. 

  • Pastoral Wellness: Resilient pastors take time for self-care

    For many pastors, coronavirus has either disrupted or catalyzed how they view their ministry’s purpose. While some are excited about new opportunities to advance their mission, others may be struggling with the additional burdens of shepherding from a distance.

  • Pastoral Care: Gaining Perspective and Recognizing Burnout

    How are you doing? This simple yet complex question can yield amazing insight into how pastors are thinking and feeling right now. Denny Howard, director of counseling and coaching for Full Strength Network, has spoken with more than 60 pastors over the last few weeks.

  • Staffing the Children's Ministry

    You may find that some volunteers in your children's ministry may not be ready to resume their roles at this time. If you do find a void, remember that it is important to not only select the right volunteers for the right jobs, but to also screen your volunteers.

  • What does children's ministry look like going forward? 

    As ministries begin gathering, there are still many questions about how to safely and effectively teach children and youth. Each ministry will need to decide what’s best for their own congregation, but the following tips may help minimize the spread of respiratory illnesses as you consider how and when you’ll gather your children and youth.

  • Children's Ministry Prep - Cleaning and Disinfecting

    Stepping up your cleaning and disinfecting practices can help minimize the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19 when you return to children and youth ministry activities.

  • Before We Gather - Planning for Social Distancing

    What does social distancing look like at church? We’ve compiled a list of areas to consider so your team can begin making plans. Be sure to let your attendees, staff, and volunteers know about any changes and what to expect in advance.

  • Before We Gather - Back to Work, Back to Basics

    Your ministry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic may have ranged from a complete shutdown to an entirely new way of reaching your congregation. Ramping up in-person operations requires a careful plan, too, especially if you are rehiring furloughed or laid-off employees, recalling volunteers, or even hiring new workers.

  • Before We Gather - Deep Clean and Disinfect

    Stepping up your cleaning and disinfecting practices can help minimize the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19 as you return to worship services. The coronavirus may be viable for hours to days on chairs, desks, pews, counters, door handles, phones, computer keys, microphones, and more.

  • Before We Gather - Communication Reduces Fear and Increases Connection

    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.

  • Before We Gather - Taking the Touch Out of High-Touch Areas

    It’s key for ministries to consider how they can limit possible germ spread through high-touch surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, sinks, toilets, touch pads, Bibles, coffee pots, pens, water fountains, offering plates, and more.

  • Before We Gather – Facilities Preparation

    As you prepare for a gradual return to normal operations, you may be wondering how your ministry can prepare its facilities to address health and safety. There are steps you can take now to make sure your facilities are ready.

  • Facility Use Agreement

    To limit the liability your church, school, or camp assumes, require all groups borrowing or renting your facilities to sign a building use agreement.

  • Activity Participation Agreement for Ministry and School

    This sample agreement can be used for ministry or school. Ensure participants understand risks and protect your ministry from liability by having participants sign an activity participation agreement.