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“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

I don’t think Tolkien was talking about the Novel Coronavirus when he wrote those words, but I do think I know how he felt. And when it comes to re-opening your church during a pandemic, unique times call for unique solutions. We must take the necessary steps to re-open safely, and TouchPoint is here to help.

Before we begin, however, we do want to point out that these suggestions should not be constituted as legal advice and each church should follow the guidance of the state and local leaders. Further, it’s our belief that churches should continue to offer a variety of virtual offerings to continue to serve those most vulnerable for whom it might not be safe or wise for them to meet in person. Church leaders should also stress to their congregants that they should only attend if they feel safe and secure doing so, and should not attend if they are ill or prone to illness.

With those precautions in mind, let’s talk about some things you can do now to ensure a smooth and safe re-opening.

Registration

In order to adequately prepare, it’s important to know how many people may be arriving on your campus. A registration process might look something like this:

  • Set up an online registration for your members, regular attendees and visitors to let you know they plan to attend. Within TouchPoint this can be set up as an Organization with the registration type of User Selects Organization.
  • Send an email to your email list with a link for them to register. TouchPoint can make the call to action super easy with the use of a RegisterLink to expedite registration process.
  • Consider adding additional services and keeping them small. Registrants should then choose the service time they would like to attend
    • Placed in an organization corresponding to their selection
    • Each time slot will be an organization within TouchPoint for reporting purposes
  • Send a confirmation email to provide instructions on where to park and how to enter the building
  • Registrants should be instructed to arrive 20 minutes early for check-in

Parking

An easy way to create predictable foot traffic flow in and out of your building is by designating where an attendee can park.

  • Based upon the hour an individual attends, you can instruct them on which parking lot to use, enabling you to:
    • Funnel individuals into predictable entrances
    • Allow for natural fellowship time for those attending the same service
    • Prevent individuals leaving the first service coming into contact with those entering for the second service (if offering multiple services)
  • Shuttle service should only be used for those that make arrangements in advance and only when absolutely necessary
  • Because shuttle service will not be provided, consider adding additional preferred parking and ask those who are able to park further away

Entry

In a post COVID-19 world, greeters shaking hands may be a thing of the past. That doesn’t mean we can’t still be warm and inviting! 

Here’s a few tips for Greeters:

  • Wear masks and gloves. No shaking hands with attendees entering the building
  • Provide instructions for check-in or special seating measures to attendees
  • Consider marking spaces on the ground to encourage social distancing while entering
  • Extra credit: Greeters draw smiles on their masks!

Check-In

For safety and crowd control reasons, many churches may want to maintain a list of those who entered the building. TouchPoint has several Check-In features that will make this process smooth:

  • Utilize as many check-in stations as possible to limit “pile ups” and keep the flow of foot traffic moving
  • Existing children’s check-in stations can be used, but must be manned by a single staff/volunteer to limit the unnecessary touching of surfaces
    • No self check-in should be permitted
  • Utilize iPad attendance and Ticketing attendance (special TouchPoint attendance processes). Both of these methods allow churches to add guests quickly. Here’s a few tips:
    • Provide tablets to staff/volunteers. This enables a staff member/volunteer to mark an individual present if they recognize them, with no physical interaction needed.
    • Ticketing attendance works well for families that will be attending with children/family members
    • The Week at a Glance report can be used for a real-time view of how many people have been checked into the building

Walk Ups

It’s likely that churches will face difficult decisions on how to handle attendees once capacity is reached. Here are some important questions to ask yourself and your staff:

  • How do we handle people that don’t register but arrive anyway?
  • Will walk ups be denied access to the building?
  • Will walk ups be funneled into an overflow room (Fellowship Hall or Balcony)?

Childcare

In these early stages of re-opening, childcare may not be a safe option.

  • Current recommendation is to prohibit childcare
  • Consider providing separate rooms like a Fellowship Hall for families to sit at a table so children can do quiet activities like color or puzzles
    • Providing age appropriate activities like coloring sheets, word searches, and children’s bulletins make it easier for children to participate
    • Supplies like crayons should be single-use, like these.

Safety Measures

Beyond the items listed above, there are other important decisions to be made in order to maintain a safe and sanitary environment:

  • Individuals must wear masks/face covers while in the building
  • Name labels can be printed in advance or though check in stations and distributed upon entry
    • Since everyone is wearing masks, name tags can create a more friendly atmosphere
    • Helps security identify individuals in the building but more importantly, itelps security identify individuals that should not be in the building (did not check in)
  • Consider asking your attendees to refrain from singing, or if to sing quietly to themselves or reflect silently

So there’s our list! We’d love to hear from you as well. What steps will your church be taking to maintain a safe atmosphere while re-opening your doors?

Stay tuned for more information on how TouchPoint can help. Next week, we’ll be focusing on the unique solutions TouchPoint can provide as you prepare.

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