Recommendations to our Western Region Family of Churches
In the midst of adversity and uncertainty around us, we are confident that the Lord is leading us in the way we should go. Our trust is in Him and we are not leaning on our own understanding. He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
With the announcement of restrictions on the size of public gatherings across our region, we are recommending that all our church families exercise an abundance of caution by not congregating for public worship at this time.
Provide care to high-risk individuals who may feel isolated at home.
For all meetings/gatherings – social distancing requires people to not sit together in the same row – approximately six feet is advisable.
Live-streaming (if possible) may be the best option.
Encourage smaller gatherings in homes of 10 people or less.
Increase communication and non-physical contact.
Continue cleaning—doors, handles, water fountains, tables, sinks, check-in stations, touchscreens, kid’s areas and toys, podiums, mics, adult classrooms.
Review list of doctors and nurses in your congregation.
Schedule a call or meeting with your congregation’s medical professionals and plan screening steps.
Get scripts together for what to say and do if someone has an above normal temperature or tests positive. Who have they been near at church?
Evaluate high contagion areas—open coffee bars, donut trays, water fountains, door knobs and handles.
Continue to educate staff, key leaders and your board.
Pray for opportunities for trained teams to serve the sick and needy in your community.
Establish a fund for helping patients and their families.
Don’t neglect self-care. This is a marathon – not a sprint. Make sure you and your church leaders and volunteers are getting adequate rest and personal support.
Several of our church families have already made the decision not to gather this Sunday. Here are links to communication from Crossroads Church in Camarillo (email) and Ventura Missionary Church (video).
If you are not worshiping this weekend, consider that if people are still using the building (even if staff only), extra cleaning will need to be in place to protect them.
Here are some helpful resources that may assist you in caring for your church families during this crisis:
Mike Somers, our Regional Executive Pastor, provided these Areas of Discussion you may consider with your leadership team… (see below) He also recommends that you go to your local public school website for info. It’s the standard that the churches may be held to in case of liability issues and it usually has solid facts and links. (i.e. my husband died of Covid-19 because he contracted it at church.) Mike’s local school link: https://www.pleasantvalleysd.org/coronavirus (example)
Would you please let us know what you intend to do this weekend – and also let us know how we can assist? (send a quick email here)
We continue to pray for you and your church leadership team and church families.
COVID-19 Response: Areas of Discussion for Church Leadership
Monitoring the situation
What is the plan to monitor and re-access the virus situation?
Who will be the point person or on this team?
Team should include one member of the pastoral team, a facility team member, a finance committee member, a communications/website team member, and a local health care professional.
What will be the trigger to close the church services?
Logically, what is needed to do a service online?
Stream equipment and services – options include Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and other professional services.
Production · Tech, band, vocalists
Message and Message notes
Youth and Children
What needs to be mobilized?
How can prayer be used in new ways?
What needs to be communicated?
How will we communicate? Text, emails, newsletters, other
Whose voice needs to be heard? Elders, Pastor/s, Staff
What technology can we take advantage of? Whatsapp, mass texting, Zoom, other
How can social media be used in new ways?
How can streaming be used in new ways?
Creating Fellowship and Community
What new opportunities do we have? Leaders connecting with those that they are caring for/leading
How can we communicate that we are the “body of Christ” in new ways?
Who in our congregation is the most isolated?
Who are our most vulnerable congregants?
How can they be cared for?
What ministries can we still do? Food pantry, small groups
Staff – what special needs need to be addressed with staff as their duties and roles change?
What short-range programs need to be rescheduled, modified or cancelled? Easter, Mother’s Day, Spring missions trips, camps
What long-range programs need to be rescheduled, modified or cancelled? Summer missions trips, conferences, travel, camps
What new program ideas are possible in this new reality?
Ramping Back Up
What logistical plans can be made now to prepare to restart services, programs, etc?
What is our present financial status?
What kind of reserves are in place?
Based on our demographics, who is going to be affected by closures and canceled events?
What ways can we best estimate loss of income?
Tithes and offering – How can we maximize electronic giving?
Reducing expenses – What are ways to the minimize expenses to just non-essential spending? What is essential? In what order will expenses be reduced?
How can we mitigate those affected by these reductions? Staff, Missionaries and other missions supported expenses
What are ways we can monitor our financial situation to make better decisions at moment’s notice?
Mike Somers is available to discuss any of these areas with you – you can email him. He has enrolled in a 5-week course with XPastor.org, an organization that trains executive leaders in churches, and will provide all of our church leaders with valuable information throughout this crisis. If you are interested in participating in this course – enroll online.
Ideas for Communicating with your Church Body
If you have not already addressed growing concerns in your area, I would encourage you to be proactive in your communication with your church family. The church where Deanne and I belong has cancelled all mid-week activities and programs and has created a Health and Wellness page on the church website to keep people aware of steps they are taking to prevent the spread of the virus. (Here’s a link to the email that was sent to our church family).
I highly recommend that you review this information: All Things Coronavirus – developed by Northshore Church in Kirkland, WA – the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak. While you might not find all of this information useful – there is still quite a bit that can be gleaned.
Many churches find themselves needing to respond and adjust to the spread, as well as minimize the effects. This Concise Coronavirus Guide for Churches from Christianity Today and Church Law & Tax offers tips on forming a plan, staying informed, and caring for those affected.
Our health insurance provider, Anthem, has informed us that Anthem will cover the care for members diagnosed as having COVID-19, based on the member’s plan benefits. It’ll also cover testing for COVID-19. Members will pay any out-of-pocket expenses their plan requires, unless otherwise determined by state law or regulation. You can download COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about how it is spread, symptoms and how to protect yourself.
We are here to help you and serve you in any way that we can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and our regional team.
Eddy Ekmekji, Lead Pastor of As You Are Missionary Church, developed the following 14-day prayer guide for his congregation. Perhaps it can be a helpful resource for you as well. You can download it as a graphic here.
The Bible calls us to trust the Lord and not be afraid because God is with us (Isaiah 41:10). Pray for those who are genuinely afraid and anxious that they encounter the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
For Health Professionals
There is a segment of our society that is at the frontlines of combating the virus and caring for the sick. Pray for doctors, nurses, public health officials, and EMTs (to name a few). Pray that God would give them course and wisdom in the season. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
For the End of the Virus
We are not sure how the pandemic will come to an end but pray and ask God that he shorten the days of its impact. (Exodus 10:18)
For the Vulnerable
There is a certain segment of our society who are at a higher risk of death because of the virus. Pray for those with underlying health conditions and the elderly that they be spared. (Isaiah 1:17)
For the Economic Impact
Many people will find themselves unemployed or losing significant business and income because of all the closures. Pray for wisdom and comfort in times of trouble and for God’s provisions to be seen by many. (Job 38:41)
For Those Who Get / Are Sick
Pray for the healing of those who contract the virus. Pray that God would heal them and that God would numb the contagious aspects of the virus. (James 5:14)
For Our Leaders
Whether it be for our local, state and federal government leaders or church leaders. Pray that God would give them wisdom to lead and make important decisions that impact so many of us. (1 Timothy 2:1)
For Wise Followers
While we may not understand or agree with some of the measures we’re being asked to implement, pray that we act in compliance to what the experts are asking us to do in this season. (Romans 13:13)
For the Food Insecure
There is no food shortage but with so many of us hoarding, pray that those who are most vulnerable would get access to food. Pray that we not hoard but trust in God’s daily provisions. (Matthew 6:11)
For Our Homes
Sadly, for many of our neighbors, the home is not a safe place. Being quarantined at home with an abusive spouse or parent can be devastating and traumatic. Pray for God’s comfort and peace over our homes. (Isaiah 32:18)
For Those with Addictions
In times of anxiety, it’s far too easy to turn to addictions to numb the pain. Pray that people turn to Jesus’ comfort and leadership. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Some of us have the ability to work from home, while others are needed to help make our local economies work (grocery stores, delivery drivers, etc.). Pray that God would keep them from being exposed to the virus and that they shed any fear of working in this season. (Psalm 23)
For the Church
This is our opportunity to be the church that lives out our faith and is a witness to our community. Let us testify that God is good even when our circumstances aren’t. Pray that we be kind and compassionate, not mean-spirited and judgmental. (Acts 2:42)
For God’s Mercy
What is God saying to us? Pray that we learn to hear his voice in this season. God often uses disruptive spaces to catch our attention and call us to a deeper intimacy with him, and that all would turn to him and his saving grace. (John 10:4)