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How should churches handle the coronavirus? That’s the question congregations around the country are grappling with since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.  

I surveyed a cross-section of pastors in my “tribe” regarding the steps they are taking. Following is a summary of the most common best practices that emerged from their feedback as well […]

I surveyed a cross-section of pastors in my “tribe” regarding the steps they are taking. Following is a summary of the most common best practices that emerged from their feedback as well as some suggestions from various websites.

Cleaning and sanitation:

  • Provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the building.

  • Clean and sanitize high-traffic or common areas before and after services (including, but not limited to, chairs, door handles, stair rails, counters, and elevators).

Worship services and church practices:

  • Revise meet-and-greet gestures during services

  • Adjust or eliminate the practice of hugging or shaking hands during services.

  • Examine the Lord’s Supper practices 

  • Consider using individual cup and bread packages (available at various locations) or even postponing the Lord’s Supper for a time.

  • Limit physical contact with greeters. Encourage greeters to refrain from shaking hands and instead just smile and wave. Additionally, greeters could hold doors open to limit the number of people who physically touch the door handles.

  • Receive the offering in boxes at the door: Avoid passing an offering plate (which can spread germs) and instead establish offering collection points at sanctuary entrances and exits.

  • Encourage online giving: Proactively make online giving easy, especially if your community becomes a COVID-19 hotspot and attendance declines or your church temporarily suspends services.

  • Cancel church-wide meals: Potluck and shared meals can lead to transmission of disease. Cancel or postpone additional church gatherings and events: Weigh the risks and benefits of non-essential gatherings.

Kids’ ministries:

  • Extensively clean and sanitize kids’ areas each week and between services, including all toys and surfaces.

  • Supervise hand washing of all kids and volunteers before entering the kids’ areas.

  • Provide hand sanitizer and encourage everyone entering or exiting kids’ areas to use it.

Travel and trips:

  • Postpone or cancel overnight retreats.

  • Postpone short-term mission trips.

  • Evaluate staff travel (domestic and international).

Worship and giving alternatives:

  • Film live-stream worship services at the church and distribute online.

  • Film and distribute recorded sermons along with discussion guides for families.

  • Record and/or provide links to worship songs.

  • Coordinate online prayer meetings through Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom.

Above all, PRAYER:

  • For protection and healing of individuals and families affected by this virus.

  • For doctors and medical professionals on the front lines caring for those who contract coronavirus.

  • For medical researchers diligently working to create a vaccine.

  • For churches to respond with thoughtfulness, wisdom, and love. for the continued advance of the gospel even as this trying moment unfolds.


  • Reassure your congregation: Over communicate the steps being taken and reassure them that your leaders will continue to think ahead and communicate with them as things change.

  • Urge high-risk individuals to stay home: COVID-19 does not affect every person the same way. According to the CDC, some are at higher risk of suffering more dire consequences if they become sick (e.g., older adults and those with existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease). Direct your congregants to trusted, professional information sites: Your people need to know who they can trust, which starts with letting them know who you trust.

  • Direct people to information at the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Local and state governments will also have information about COVID-19 in your area.

– STEVE JONES, President of the Missionary Church

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