By Aaron Earls
As the coronavirus spreads in the U.S. and several state and local governments are asking large groups not to gather, congregations are facing a situation many have never considered.
In response, the LifeWay Leadership team has developed pandemic response resources that are being made available for free to assist pastors and church leaders at MinistryGrid.com/coronavirus.
“Pastors are asking questions about how their churches should react to the coronavirus,” said Todd Adkins, director of LifeWay Leadership. “We wanted to provide them with training videos and checklists that are immediately applicable for their congregations.”
Adkins maintains churches should have a response plan that can be implemented for more rare instances like the coronavirus, but also situations like a severe, local outbreak of the flu.
“When you have a response plan in place, you can effectively communicate and serve your church during a pandemic,” said Adkins. “Doing so shows preparedness, not panic.”
The free training course “How to Prepare for the Coronavirus at Your Church” walks leaders through developing a plan, phases of implementation, attendance metrics that should be monitored, how to alter regular ministry practices, and more.
The available documents include a sample pandemic response policy, suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and checklists for guest services and kids ministry.
“Responses should be contextualized to individual churches and their communities,” said Adkins. “These resources should serve as guidelines for churches to develop based on their own specific situations.”
In light of this, Adkins said churches should start by forming a task force consisting of church staff, key ministry leaders, as well as licensed safety and medical personnel, such as police officers, first responders and nurses.
The task force should be responsible for monitoring local conditions using information from local and state health departments, the CDC and FEMA to determine the severity in your area, he said.
In developing a response, Adkins said “any ministry that interacts with multiple people on a given Sunday should have specific response tasks as part of the plan.”
To access the sample response plan and other free pandemic resources, church leaders need to log in or create a free LifeWay account at Ministry Grid.
Once logged in, participants can view four specific videos: “How to Create a Pandemic Response Plan for Your Church,” “Three Phases of a Pandemic Response Plan,” “Your Church’s Leadership Pipeline in a Pandemic Response Plan,” and “Pandemic Planning Considerations.”
In addition to practical checklists and other downloadable documents, the course also contains links to applicable CDC guidelines.
Church leaders can find more information on the free training resources at MinistryGrid.com/coronavirus.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor for Facts & Trends.