LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Clear communication will be one of the key ingredients needed as churches begin to put together their recipes for returning to in-person worship services. Communication, and patience, according to one Kentucky Baptist leader.
“I once heard that where there are two Baptists there are three opinions. There will be those who disagree with leaders’ decisions regarding church guidelines for the return,” said Alan Witham, church consultant with the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“Patience will be needed with respect to our leaders. Patience flows from a life that realizes they have been shown great grace by a patient God who can produce that same patience as a spiritual fruit in them,” according to Witham.
Between guidelines and mandates by Gov. Andy Beshear and the rulings of federal judges, many churchgoers are confused as to what is required of church members worshipping in-person.
“I do think it’s important for churches to place clear and ample signage around the building. With such a great flux of information about guidelines and precautions, it’s important for the members reentering to know exactly what to do and where to go,” Marina Shelton, KBC communications associate, said.
“There will likely be a lot of questions asked about where to go and what to do on the first few weeks while transitioning back to in-person services, and pastors should be prepared to answer them. Answering with simplicity, consistency, and caution is crucial,” said Shelton.
The KBC is making a group of printer-ready signs available for churches to download from their website. The signs cover temperature checks stations and remind worshipers to maintain social distancing and sanitization guidelines.
“Signage at the building will be very important. Signs will serve as a reminder of what is expected and might help the celebration of returning to church,” Witham said, “Signs might even encourage people who drive by to stop and worship.”
He believes clear communication will put people at ease. “It is important because people want to know what to expect when they do show up for church again. People don’t like surprises. They should know what is expected, allowed, and encouraged when they show up for in-person worship for the first time.”
Shelton also encourages pastors and church leaders to consider how far their example will go. “During this transitional time, pastors will be looked to as the example-setters for following guidelines. It’s important pastors follow and reinforce information on signage for consistent and clear communication with their members.”
Most churches across Kentucky have been meeting through live streams and other forms of online communication since March 15.