COVID-19 is now spreading in the USA and churches need to plan ahead. How will your church and Children’s Ministry respond to Coronavirus fears? Here are some important steps every congregation, Sunday School, and Kids’ Ministry can take right now. Don’t miss the official CDC guidance for faith-based organizations.
This is not about panic, but wise planning and prayers.
The news can be sensational, but wise leaders will prepare for both the fears and possible health danger. We offer the following level-headed steps that every church and ministry should consider over the coming weeks.
Update: We’ve posted an exhaustive list of ideas for doing children’s ministry when your church is closed. You can also read our collection of Bible verses for Coronavirus fears. Children’s Ministry Magazine has an excellent source of resources and an in-depth webinar for churches during this health crisis. Don’t miss our Bible verses on Coronavirus.
Don’t miss the ICNM article “Resources for Children’s Ministry to Lead through COVID-19”
12 Ways for Church Ministries to Respond to COVID-19
1. Leaders should educate themselves with the latest science (not click-bate news)
Start by reading the CDC bulletins. These include a specific article about COVID-19 and children. Don’t miss their bulletin for schools preparing for this virus. You should also be ready to fact-check new information. We recommend the COVID-19 information from Snopes.com
2. Review and over-communicate your well-child policy.
Every church should have a well-child policy, preferably modeled on the accepted public school policies in your community. You can see our sample well-child guidelines and compare them to your own.
3. Ask adults to follow this same policy for their church attendance.
Ask all church members to follow the established well-child policies. This is common sense, but make it clear that people should not attend if they are unwell. Read about how churches in California are responding.
4. Plan ahead for volunteer sick time or lower attendance.
How will your ministry function without the normal volunteers? Do you have substitutes ready? Will you combine Sunday School classes on weekends with low attendance?
5. Plan to teach about prayer and the vocations that combat disease.
The Christian response to fear should include requests to God for help. Help children know that God wants to comfort them in times of trial. An easy way to start is with the classic 5 finger prayer. You can also talk about how heath-care workers share in God’s work when they help the sick.
6. Review your child hygiene policies.
Snack times should require hand washing (or at least alcohol based sanitizer). Consider canceling snack time during cold and flu season.
7. Review your church nursery and facility cleaning policies.
The church nursery should have posted cleaning policies, both to comfort parents and ensure volunteers don’t forget. This is a good time to review and communicate those nursery cleaning procedures.
8. Educate parents (and church members) through your communication channels.
The children’s ministry should have a robust communication plan. Use that tool to help get parents to the right information about your policies and about the best information above COVID-19.
9. Decide the threshold for suspending the children’s programs.
Ministry leaders should decide in advance when to cancel programming for children. This would obviously include any times when public schools cancel class. Consider a proactive approach if a certain percent of families or volunteers can’t attend.
10. Decide the threshold for canceling church services.
Church leaders need to be proactive. Decide in advance to honor any public health warnings or provide e-church though Facebook live. Elderly members are often the most medically fragile and the most determined to attend. What options will you provide if this virus become a widespread health threat?
11. Mobilize your church for ministry.
Jesus is the Great Physician – and his church is called to participate in the work of the Kingdom by serving a world in need. Pray and seek God’s help in how your church can make a difference in a time of fear or potential crisis. Will you have a prayer hotline or message board? Will you find ways to minister to those without healthcare? Now is the time to prepare.
12. Refute and correct Sinophobia when possible.
With any public fear, old prejudice comes to the surface. Christian people should speak up for all of God’s children. Don’t let anti-Chinese sentiment spread among your church people, even in off-handed jokes.