On Going Viral

by Nate Powell
This post has been updated since it was first published. To read the most current information and practices toward prevention, click here!
To go viral or not go viral? That is the question.

Everyone is talking about viruses, but not the computer kind. COVID-19 has been a topic of conversation everywhere, and everyone is talking about how to respond, especially as we interact with one another in public spaces. Churches are not immune to this, and we must each know how to respond and react considering such news.

Here are a few ways we can each be reacting, and some things we can do practically to help care for each other

Don’t Panic

First, we need to note that scientifically speaking, the statistics are bearing out that the fatality rate of this virus is slightly more deadly than the flu that we commonly deal with during flu season. So those at greater risk are those over 60 or with other secondary health concerns.

But beyond the science, people still become irrational about such virus issues, mainly because we are people who worry about the future and worry about worst case scenarios. As people who have faith in Christ, we know that it is better to the fear the Lord than to fear death, and that we can be fully confident that God is in control, even in this uncertainty. With God in control, we need not fear the future. I said this yesterday at the end of each service, and I will say it here again: We are the people of faith, not of fear. We must call everyone to be prepared for what is to come, to call Jesus Savior and Lord and be saved.

Greet Appropriately

Handshakes have been a part of church life for a long time, but they are also one of the leading and easiest ways to pass germs and illness. The last couple weeks, we’ve been encouraging fist bumps or elbow taps when you want to greet someone. Smiles and waves will always work, as well! We will continue to encourage these types of greetings in the context of our Sunday morning gatherings.

Serve Communion Safely

One of the easiest ways that germs can get spread during a church service is during the passing of communion. One thing we will be doing to minimize this in the coming weeks is to use two cups for our communion. One will have juice and will be stacked on top of the other cup, which will contain the bread wafer. We will continue to serve in this manner, and have you leave your cups in the cup holders, where our deacons can come around with gloves and collect them following the service.

Clean and Sanitize

We are going to up our cleaning game each week, with additional wipe downs of door handles and any other common surfaces of shared contact. Our nursery staff, who normally sanitizes anyway, will redouble their efforts to make sure our church nursery is spotless and in tip-top sanitary shape. Wipes and Lysol will be the friends of our janitors and volunteers in the coming weeks and months.

Give Online

Many of you already know this, but carrying cash is not a germ-free experience. Many people already take advantage of our online giving option, which you can even schedule weekly or monthly, so that you don’t have to handle cash or worry about taking the time to write a check. Click here to explore that option of online giving.

Ill or At Risk? Stay Home.

Normally, we don’t give out free passes for church skipping, but we are definitely making some exceptions during a season of sickness. If you happen to be sick and showing symptoms of illness, this is the note I’m writing you to not put others’ health at risk. If you’re sick, you have the pastor’s permission to stay at home.

On the other side of that same issue, I also want to encourage some members of our older or at-risk attenders. This virus does put your health more at risk. As we may see more spread of it, I would also encourage you to weigh the risks, and consider whether it would be pertinent to join us. If you’re elderly or at-risk during this season, you also have my blessing to do what is best for your health.

In both cases, make note: the elders (which includes me) are willing to bring communion to shut-ins or those who can’t be part of our worship services on Sunday. We are also willing to help any members get set up so that they can be part of our worship services online and hear the sermon, either by the Facebook live stream or by listening to the sermon audio on the church website. Please contact the office if we can get you on that list for communion or help you set up online watching/listening.

All the way around, we will be on the look out and careful when it comes to illness. Let’s remember to be in prayer for all of our health care professionals, and others who are making decisions to try to stem the tide of this illness in our nation and around the world.