By Waylon Bailey.
Where will you eat out in the future? On what airline will you fly? What about which hotel where you will stay?
All of these have the same answer–the one I trust. For the foreseeable future, trust will be the number one criterion for places we will visit in the coming days. That includes places of worship.
In Louisiana, we are waiting our governor’s green light to begin gathering for worship. When that happens, we will move forward with a well-formulated plan to worship together.
Our plan is set up to make sure we focus on God and not on cleanliness.
Our pastoral team has been busy reading CDC guidelines, state guidelines, and the many checklists of other churches and denominational groups (it’s amazing how many of these have been offered). We are doing our best to take the best practices and ignore those that don’t apply to our situation.
Here’s what we want to say to our people: We will do our very best to care for you and your family in the way we want our families cared for. That means that we will go “overboard” to make sure your mind is on God and not on the Coranavirus. Some of that concern is only natural, but we want to do everything possible to remove it to the background.
Here’s what you can expect until we put this painful time behind us:
Spatial distancing–the guidelines for today (they change regularly and according to the phase of our recovery) call for having 25% of our occupancy in attendance. This will allow us to have 628 people in each of our three worship services, which should allow us to worship comfortably and to accommodate the people who will want to come at this early date. As the virus subsides, we should be able to add to our numbers at the same time that more people want to attend.
We will have our worship center marked out in a checkerboard fashion to allow us to be close but not too close.
Families worshiping together–to begin we will not provide childcare. Families will have the privilege of worshiping together and we will make it kid-friendly. It should be a unique and wonderful time.
“Touchless” worship–both with people and with surfaces. To begin we will not shake hands and not give a “Holy kiss.” We will greet one another warmly and lovingly. We will make sure you get worship materials and can give an offering but without spreading germs. You will not have to open doors.
Volunteers and staff to sanitize regularly. After each worship service, we will sanitize “everything,” all surfaces, handrails, doorknobs, and everything else. We will have attendants to constantly refresh the restrooms and other attendants to refresh repeatedly.
Soon, I will send a video to prepare my congregation for what they can expect so that we can really enjoy one another’s presence and to joyfully enter to a time of gathered worship of God.