We’re all facing daily decisions that we’ve never faced before. We weigh out each social interaction and try to develop new habits like wearing a mask and not touching our face. Suddenly, a regular errand, such as running into the grocery store to pick up milk, holds potentially heavy consequences.
Our church leaders feel this weight as well when they consider what events to hold and how to coordinate in-person services and meetings as safely as possible. Our physical health and safety is important, however many people are struggling with isolation and feeling desperate for connection.
The dilemma is maintaining safety and following all the proper precautions, while still recognizing and providing opportunities for true connection.
We’re all being asked to look at each aspect of our lives through a new lens. How do we do church and create the connection that is desired and needed in this new season?
As we consider an in-person gathering, it’s important to evaluate three things: the risk, the impact, and the opportunity for connection.
Evaluating the percent of positive cases in your area is important to consider. Can you create opportunities for small groups of people to connect in person? Can you have the meeting outside or in a large enough area where they can maintain the appropriate social distance? The smaller the group the better simply because, if someone should test positive for COVID-19, the number of other people impacted will be small as well. No church wants to be on the news for having a super-spreader event. There is always that risk, so it needs to be seriously considered.
Does the impact of this meeting or event outweigh the risk? Do you have a group of young, healthy teenagers meeting outside or are you inviting senior citizens to gather inside? The health impact an event may have on the group that will attend has to be evaluated. The year 2020 has emphasized church leaders’ responsibility for their congregation’s physical health in addition to their spiritual health. If you bring a group of children together and unknowingly expose them to the virus, then you potentially also expose each child’s family, That negative impact is great. However, you may have a group of single adults that have very little opportunity for healthy social interactions. The exposure rate for that group might be low, while the meaningful and spiritually encouraging time together has a tremendous positive impact.
The Opportunity for Connection
If you’re going to invite people to come together in person, then make sure you provide opportunities for them to interact and connect at the event. Most churches can provide a virtual experience for a sermon; so, if you’re going to risk potential exposure with an in-person event, create an atmosphere of relational connection.
People are hungry for not just socialization, but true connection. Any event needs to be planned carefully and cautiously, but the opportunity for connection must outweigh the risk and potential negative impact. We are living in a new season, that requires new ways of doing things, but nothing can change the importance of connection.