Caring for Your Church during the Pandemic: A Conversation with Creflo Dollar Part 2
“We’re here to give wisdom, give guidance, give instruction, and just be real about our feelings and how things affect those of us in ministry.”—Bishop Kenneth Fuller
We are all navigating through uncharted waters as the pandemic continues with new variants that impact how our ministries operate. Many ministry leaders, as well as their members, have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and questions about how to open their ministries for in-person services again form a much-needed conversation. I recently interviewed my friend, brother, mentor, and pastor, Creflo Dollar, to get insight and ask a few of these questions. You can read Part One of that interview here.
Bishop Fuller: There are ministers that have not started their churches back yet, but plan to soon. What would you be your advice to them on how to open back up?
Pastor Dollar: Communication is key. I would first figure out the different ways that you can communicate with your congregation. This may be via letter, text message, or email. I would suggest using all of these channels to make sure you reach 100% of the people attached to your ministry. You can also communicate via social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) or your ministry website. You should tell them your reopening plan details including the date, time, and safety measures that you will have in place to minimize COVID-19 risks. You need to communicate the specifics of your safety measures, so that people will know what to expect before they come.
People want to feel safe coming to church and you don’t want to take anybody for granted. In the same thought, we don’t want to condemn people who still feel comfortable staying at home and watching the church service through the stream online. Make them feel comfortable where they are without pressuring them one way or the other. God shared with me one day, “Connectivity is the new currency.” We can connect with people by meeting them where they are.
Bishop Fuller: For pastors that have wondered, “What are some of the safety protocols that need to be taken?” What advice would you give them?
Pastor Dollar: Temperature checks, hand sanitizing, face masks, and social distancing are the top protocols that come to mind. First, temperature checks for everybody that comes in are important because if you can assure everybody that nobody comes in without having their temperature checked, you can put members at ease. The second thing I would do is make sure that I disinfect everything that can be touched and have a team of volunteers regularly cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting common areas. It helps when people see volunteers actively wiping down door handles or having touch-less hand sanitizing stations available for their use. Third, you will need to address your plan for wearing face masks and for social distancing so that members know that you have their safety in mind. You can check the CDC’s recommendation for face masks and social distancing to assure people that you are following the latest standards and guidelines that account for variants and vaccinations. I think those four things are really good safety protocols. It always makes me feel good to know that nobody is in our church with a fever. I just feel good about that because, as leaders, we have a responsibility to provide a safe space for people willing to attend our services in person.
Bishop Fuller: How do I get my volunteers back in and how do I get them trained?
Pastor Dollar: The same safety protocols are important; then you have to start training your volunteers before you open the church. Train them how to take temperatures, how to approach people with masks, on the stuff that they need to know. Slowly activate different areas of your ministry. What are the essential areas that need to be activated in order for you to have service?
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Letting your church see you take care of them is good teaching. It’s a learning tool that keeps everyone informed and feeling like they’re a vested part of the decision-making. Come back next month for Part 3 of this interview!