What would your church do if you had to cancel meetings because of the Corona Virus (for two weeks or more)?

Some churches in some countries and regions of the U.S. have canceled their services because of the Corona Virus outbreak.  The Virus in now spreading throughout the U.S.  If you area is affected and you are advised or constrained to cancel church gatherings, what measures would you be prepared to take?

Note: "Keeping in touch by email" would include possibly phone calls for those who don't have email.

Alos, please comment -- especially if you have suggestions. This post might be a wellspring of ideas that could prove helpful.

 

We are set up to do a live broadcast from homes (pastor's home, perhaps a music person's home).
33% (7 votes)
We would make an audio sermon available, perhaps with Scripture, and keep in touch by email. reading and even some music.
19% (4 votes)
We would primarily keep in touch by email.
14% (3 votes)
We would take a vacation from church, much like we would for weather-related cancelations.
10% (2 votes)
Other.
24% (5 votes)
Total votes: 21
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There are 35 Comments

pvawter's picture

I've honestly never considered this, and there are enough people in our church who are not online that we'd have a hard time doing a live broadcast. If it went on longer than a couple of weeks, we might have to get creative. Biggrin

I voted for making an audio sermon available, b/c we have the capability of doing that already, even for those who are not on the internet.

Jim's picture

Whenever we cancel for snow (1 time this year) ... our finances take a 1 week 'hit'. It's like "I'm not at church and I don't need to give". 

If we canceled church for a month ... we would take a massive hit financially

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jim Peet -- whose comments I always appreciate -- wrote:

Whenever we cancel for snow (1 time this year) ... our finances take a 1 week 'hit'. It's like "I'm not at church and I don't need to give". 

If we canceled church for a month ... we would take a massive hit financially

If it is any consolation, if all group gatherings are nixed and we are only allowed out to work or buy groceries/ pharamaceuticals, a lot of people will be hit.  The norm will be layoffs and reduced hours.  I've not experienced this sort of thing in my lifetime.

I wonder if the thinking is that, by buying time and slowing the spread of this virus, we can develop a vaccine?  It seems to me that, even if this pandemic lessons, the disease will continue to circulate among the formerly quarrantined who have not built up resistance to this.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jim wrote:

Whenever we cancel for snow (1 time this year) ... our finances take a 1 week 'hit'. It's like "I'm not at church and I don't need to give". 

If we canceled church for a month ... we would take a massive hit financially

That's interesting.  Our church occasionally takes weekly or monthly hits, depending on a snow day (which down here in the south happens any time frozen precipitation appears, in any amount), or vacation times of year, etc.  However, on a quarterly basis, we've noticed that things tend to even out.  As a result, we don't get too concerned about a low week or month, because the gifts generally do show up eventually.  At one point, we even had a member who gave annually everything for the year, so December's income would always look huge in comparison to other months, not even counting Christmas giving, etc.

On the other side of that equation, we now have a number who give electronically on a weekly or monthly basis.  Those gifts show up regardless of being away on vacation or days like snow days, which is certainly one point in favor of such giving. 

Dave Barnhart

Paul J's picture

We have been watching and working on this fo the past week.  The size of our services, in excess of 1,000 we could be impacted when other smaller gatherings would not.  We have all the technology to video/live-stream (which we do each week) so that is not a problem with our processes, we just need a healthy pastor/communicator.  For us, things to consider, what content would be included, might you capture worship in a small scale or edit it worship created into a set from achieved?   On giving, the vast majority of our giving is done online or through programed giving so in the short run not as significant an impact.  If it becomes wide spread and business operations are impacted and people are furloughed that would be a different story.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

So the Governor of NC has requested that all groups larger than 100 postpone or cancel any meetings.  Several larger churches in our area have canceled services this Sunday.  We're still planning to have ours, since our Sunday morning attendance is usually around 80.  We did send out a note asking for those sick or not feeling well to stay home, and to take a reasonable set of precautions.  Obviously, we'll be staying on top of this to see if any official status changes (like they restrict it to 50 or less or something like that.).

Dave Barnhart

Ed Vasicek's picture

In Indiana, we were advised to cancel meetings if more than 250; if less, we should have at least 6 feet between persons -- not practical in church. 

 

So we canceled, but advertised an e-church service via email and Facebook, asking people to share.  We usually run about 100 Sunday morning, we had 175 for e-church with 50 others watching the video at a later time.  We had a man and his daughter do a few songs with guitar and vocals, several different prayers, announcements, etc., and I spoke sitting down in front of my lap top.  I really enjoyed the casual "table talk" approach.  Did it with Facebook Live.    I am looking forward to next week.

Oh, I received many comments.  People are very enthusiastic about it, but that is becasue we have been meeting regularly for years face to face.  Probably about the time we are ready to resume such meetings, people might be ready and eager to do so.  But for now, much, much better than I expected.

"The Midrash Detective"

Larry Nelson's picture

For the time being, we're doing online church services.  They're not live-streamed (although I suspect this will prompt us to regularly live-stream going forward).  This past weekend's service was recorded in full before an empty 1,124 seat auditorium (on Saturday, 03/14) and posted to the church's website & YouTube overnight, so it was available bright-and-early on Sunday morning.  So far, it's been viewed 1,358 times, which if you figure 2.5 viewers for each (on average, counting singles, couples, families) equates to about 3,395 viewers.  (For us, that would be about a normal weekend's attendance at our services.)   

Meanwhile, the church is keeping everyone updated through email.  Anyone else is always just a phone call, email, or text away.  In terms of giving, I've already given online what I would have normally given by envelope this upcoming weekend.

Church life goes on under these temporary circumstances, and God is Sovereign over all. 

Josh S's picture

Today we're doing Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, and the evening service through Zoom Chat. This is more interactive than just live streaming. On Wednesdays, we've been meeting in small groups at homes.

Josh Stilwell, associate pastor,  Alathea Baptist Church, Des Moines, Iowa.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

My vote was "other," but as of this morning, we are livestreaming. It was a bit awkward, with so many using this kind of tech for the first time, but no too bad. I streamed a Sunday School class from my house, and our pastor streamed the morning service from his home.

It's not "the same," but was definitely encouraging to see everyone and interact.

I'm not sure livestreaming is the right word for it. We didn't just stream video. We conducted Zoom meetings, with most of the participants also joining in video. (Almost exactly how we do it at work)

So I guess we video conferenced, is the term. I recommend it.

Sounds like the same thing Josh described.

Paul J's picture

We were pretty far down th line as we were live streaming already.  We are now working on life groups for adults and content for children and student which is an appropriate format.  Has anyone looked into Life Church's resources?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Our Governor just ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and ALL social gatherings to be banned including churches, thru at least 08 April. I am less than pleased. Very upset.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

Our Governor just ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and ALL social gatherings to be banned including churches, thru at least 08 April. 

I can understand being upset, but at the same time this is a classic case of Romans 13 - the government is shutting down businesses and social gatherings to stop the spread of a global pandemic.  I would think that we should be happy to comply so that many can be saved, perhaps in more than one way.

Just my 0.02.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

josh p's picture

Jay wrote:

Our Governor just ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and ALL social gatherings to be banned including churches, thru at least 08 April. 

I can understand being upset, but at the same time this is a classic case of Romans 13 - the government is shutting down businesses and social gatherings to stop the spread of a global pandemic.  I would think that we should be happy to comply so that many can be saved, perhaps in more than one way.

Just my 0.02.

 

I can't answer for Tyler but as his fellow Washingtonian I also don't like it. It's not a matter of Romans 13. I would of course happily submit to any law that my government comes up with as long as I don't have to contradict scripture. I know at my church my pastor made a special point to explain how this isn't an attack on churches and I agree. It's across the board. I still wonder if it is the best way to handle it but I guess time will tell. 

pvawter's picture

If this ban was actually across the board, I might not object at all, but the fact is that here in WI liquor stores are considered "essential" while churches are not. I disagree.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There is no specific ban on church gatherings. It's about crowds of people in the same place at the same time. This spreads pathogens way more than people going in and out of stores in ones and twos... regardless of what they happen to be selling.

So, a better comparison would be to compare church gatherings to wedding parties, or wine tasting parties, or baby showers, or senior bingo night... all against the rules now in WI, I'm pretty sure. I was wondering this morning if it includes funerals, but I'm pretty sure it does. It wouldn't make any sense at all to exempt Sunday services.

... But close the liquor stores in WI? That was definitely never going to happen! They'd probably lock up the food stores first.

Mark_Smith's picture

we have a Shelter At Home Ordinance passed in our city. From today until April 30 it is a Class C misdemeanor to be out of your house except in a few circumstances (work, to get food, gas, doctor, etc.). So here all services are by definition cancelled.

 

How many of you have a shelter in place order?

Mark_Smith's picture

TylerR wrote:

Our Governor just ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and ALL social gatherings to be banned including churches, thru at least 08 April. I am less than pleased. Very upset.

Tyler, I am confused. Didn't you say you were doing church online?

TylerR's picture

Editor

We were planning on returning on 05 April, Palm Sunday. Now, it will be postponed until 12 April, Easter Sunday. This comes after the State had already virtually shut down for the past 10 days. This action will destroy our economy. I privately expect the executive order to be extended beyond 08 April.

I am concerned about at least three things:

  1. The precedent this action (and similar ones in other States) sets for States to invoke public emergency clauses for what seems, in comparison, to be dubious reasons.
  2. The Federal and State governments have not done a good job explaining why COVID-19 is so bad, so terrible, and so awful that it justifies this kind of action. I was willing to give President Trump his 15 days. I will give Gov. Inslee his next 15 days, but I am not convinced the health emergency warrants this kind of action.
  3. The move to not list religious services as "essential functions" in WA and other States reflects the decline of Christian influence in America.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Joeb's picture

NYC Hospitals are becoming overrun  A lot of the Hispanic population are hiring vans to drive them to Hazleton Pa an old coal town now 1/2 Hispanic.  There also getting people coming in from NYC on the Martz Traileays to the Wyoming Valley.  Two more burned out coal cities and towns that have never been so popular.   
 

The rich people from NYC are going to their shore homes on the Jersey Shore and Long Island.  Two NYC people came to Cape May County NJ to their homes and brought the Coronavirus with them.  

So I'd say it's a big deal.   Also I just read an interview of a Pastor in GA of a Pentecostal Church that had services on March 5 and 8. He and his wife now have the Coronavirus along with thirty other people from his congragaton.  The Pastor said his wife is hospitalized.  I don't know if this church is near a military base in GA which could explain the high numbers.  This Pastor's advise was don't have services it's for real.  
 

Note:  My Church Is Using Zoom to have services.  Unfortunately I don't know how to ZOOM.  
 

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm aware of the situation around the country.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

I agree with your concerns. There has not been any attempt to explain how COVID-19 is so bad, compared to past problems, that we have to shut down the economy. That is why on a previous thread I posted the 1968 and 1957-58 death numbers from influenza. Look, no one wants people to die, but as the President says, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. And I am not sure people realize this sheltering is not meant to prevent infection, just slow it down... is that worth wrecking an economy? We'll find out.

I do suspect there is a level of overreaction or blind reaction here.

And, I don't know about you, but I cannot find a single paper product in my city. We had a good stock of TP before this started at home, but in another week we are going to need some more! We have 4 kids... What about in your town?

Don Johnson's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

And, I don't know about you, but I cannot find a single paper product in my city. We had a good stock of TP before this started at home, but in another week we are going to need some more! We have 4 kids... What about in your town?

As to that, my daughter-in-law ordered some from Amazon and it arrived yesterday... 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

NYC Hospitals are becoming overrun.

It's not just NYC, though.  One person contracted it, brought it into his office, then took it home from NYC to New Rochelle in Westchester County via the commuter rail system.  Last I knew, they'd traced 58 cases back to him and that was three weeks ago.  NYC is where most go for work, but a lot (including myself) live much further away due to the exorbitant cost of living.  Everyone in my team has a commute of at least 1 hour, some as much as three hours 1 way.  But we all live and work in close proximity in NYC.

That's why I don't like these orders, but I accept them as a matter of practical necessity.  Tyler's objection on the basis of the Constitution has merit, but I see this as a critical / urgent issue that must be addressed first and then a formal procedure created after.  SoEs aren't going to be enough for something like this.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mark_Smith's picture

I just think that, because the testing situation has net met the demand, the official count is no where near the real number. I suspect, as many epidemiologists due, that COVID-19 is all over the place. Its just that most people get a relatively mild case.

 

pvawter's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I just think that, because the testing situation has net met the demand, the official count is no where near the real number. I suspect, as many epidemiologists due, that COVID-19 is all over the place. Its just that most people get a relatively mild case.

 

The problem is that as testing increases so does the number of positives which is leading some government officials such as my own Governor Evers to react based not on the actual spread of the virus but on the spread of positive tests. These are not the same.

Joeb's picture

I went to my old Church in New Jersey and met up with this friend at a Service on March 8.  The husband of my wife's cousin also joined us.  After the service we went for hike in the Pine Barrens and had dinner at an Italian Restaurant called Maplewood in Hammonton NJ.   Jim may remember the Restaurant.  Best Italian food I ever had.  
 

Anyway today this friend found out his wife was diagnosed with the Coronavirus.  Jim probably knows my dear  friend's sister since she went to Haddon Heights Baptist.  It's a real difficult situation because they have a child with severe disabilities whose had lots of Chemo so the child now 18 maybe in danger to.   
 

This Coronavirus is no joke guys many people are going to die.  The child was never suppose to live past 2 years old so it's a miracle he is still alive.  Please pray for this family the wife's name is Laura and the child's name is Luke.  I love this family very much and my friend Rick has been a shining example of someone who loves the Lord and lives for him.  
 

Many Americans are going to die including believers who will go home to the Lord.  The non believers not so.  I'll be honest it infuriates me when I see Pastors connected to Donald Trump down playing this and even say it's God's judgement against the Democrats and Communists like only they are going to die.  Even Falwell Jr opening Liberty this coming Monday in my mind is doing it as a political statement.  When I see behavior of Pastors like this it's appalling including Lefty Pastors.  When it hits close to home and your loved ones your opinion on this pandemic will change real quick.  
 

I'll be honest I'm in danger if I get this Coronavirus.  My lungs are compromised from a Fungus infection I had as a kid in Iowa.  My Lungs are totally scarred.  Ten years ago I had a X-ray due to walking pneumonia.  My lungs were so scarred and so was my wind pipe they thought I had lung cancer.  
 

I don't. mean to go into all of this but the actions taken to apply the restrictions are for a good reason. So let's treat it for what it really is and not what some of the Right Wing is doing by down playing it.  

All this being said I do agree with Donald Trump that our country needs to open for business but just not in his timeline of 2 weeks.  We should wait for 4 to 6 weeks.  At least give the Hospitals and the medical personnel a fighting chance to gear up for this.  However at some point we need to move on and deal with it as we go.   

Larry's picture

Moderator

Last I knew, they'd traced 58 cases back to him and that was three weeks ago.

Part of what doesn't make sense here is how in the world they can trace 58 cases to one person. Who else did those 58 come in contact with who might have it but not severe enough to seek treatment? Or perhaps were asymptomatic? Or haven't been tested? I think this is part of the overhype on this whole matter. It's serious, but a lot of unsupportable stuff is being said, IMO.

In order to show that this person has 58 cases traced back to him, you would have to show every other contact that these 58 had over the least 2-4 weeks absolutely did not have it. I can't imagine how you could do that. But you can't sell panic that way, I understand.

It seems the most they can say is that 58 people who did the same thing this guy did also have it. But how many people did the same thing these 58 did who don't have it? Think about it: You have cruise ships filled with people all sharing a close space, air circulation systems, dining rooms, etc. Yet most of them do not have it. Why? 

We heare talk of "new cases" every day. But those cases aren't new. They are new diagnoses of old cases. So the trend of infections may already be headed down and we don't know it yet. 

In the end, while you can't put a dollar value on a life, the cure may indeed be worse than the disease. We have an overhyped media, extensive government control, a crashed economy, and a fearful people. What's the outcome?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Unemployment claims were 3.2 million last week ... a record 5x over. Goodbye, economy.

If the news media breathlessly reported, and State Departments of Health had dedicated webpage and urgent updates, every single time an American died in a car crash, or from heart disease related to a sedentary lifestyle, I wonder how we would react.

I am increasingly concerned at my State government's response, its lack of perspective, the panic "we gotta do something!" mentality, and the implications for civil and religious liberty in this whole mess.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

In order to show that this person has 58 cases traced back to him, you would have to show every other contact that these 58 had over the least 2-4 weeks absolutely did not have it. I can't imagine how you could do that. But you can't sell panic that way, I understand.

Well, these clusters appeared in shared spaces where the one person was - his office and synagogue, for example, were particularly hard hit. 

I would imagine that it isn't too hard to find out if you know what you're doing, as I would assume most public health people do.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Well, these clusters appeared in shared spaces where the one person was - his office and synagogue, for example, were particularly hard hit. 

I would imagine that it isn't too hard to find out if you know what you're doing, as I would assume most public health people do.

But who else was in those places? And where else were these people? And how do we know it all came from one person?

Joeb's picture

A Va Pastor, whose a musical Evangelist took the position that the Coronavirus was TRUMPED  hoax to hurt Trump and no worse then the swine flu.  He also made known his position. Well he is now DEAD from the Coronavirus. If it was his life at risk it would not matter, but how many did he sway to take the Coronavirus lightly.    By the way from what I have read the swine flu originated at a Fsctory Pig Farm in the US.  Bert correct me if I'm wrong.  

Mark_Smith's picture

Joeb wrote:

A Va Pastor, whose a musical Evangelist took the position that the Coronavirus was TRUMPED  hoax to hurt Trump and no worse then the swine flu.  He also made known his position. Well he is now DEAD from the Coronavirus. If it was his life at risk it would not matter, but how many did he sway to take the Coronavirus lightly.    By the way from what I have read the swine flu originated at a Fsctory Pig Farm in the US.  Bert correct me if I'm wrong.  

I went onto the Google machine and found this...

https://patch.com/virginia/fredericksburg/va-pastor-musician-dies-corona...

For the record, the fact that he thought COVID-19 was a hoax no worse than the flu means nothing. Flu kills tens of thousands every year by pneumonia as well.