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

Posted May 22, 2020: Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith by the CDC - these recommendations help churches as America opens again.

Learn about the three phases for opening America safely, discussed in this PDF: Guidelines - Opening Up America Again by The White House and CDC.

  • How to Plan a Fall Festival in 2020

    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. 

  • Inviting the World to Your Virtual Meetings

    Your organization may have moved some of its operations online by using virtual meeting platforms. The upside is you were able to continue with critical missional aspects. The downside: online meetings, and recording those meetings, carry unique risks. 

  • Avoid Unmasking an OSHA Violation

    Your ministry may have adopted COVID-19 best practices to help protect attendees and volunteers. But when it comes to keeping employees safe, OSHA governs occupational safety standards—and it says some of its standards apply to preventing COVID-19 exposure. Can employees can file a claim if you fail to protect them?

  • 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

    Just a few months ago the thought of taking attendance for your church service or having people register in advance to attend a service were almost non-existent. Today, however, ministry teams are looking into 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.