Sooner, Smaller, Safer: Our Three-Phase Reopening Plan

by May 21, 2020

Recently, our government released a three-phase plan to gradually reopen our province. We as churches were fortunate to have been included in Phase 1 and while we are excited about the prospect of gathering in person again, we want to move forward with the utmost amount of wisdom and caution. 

We wanted to create a strategy that would allow us to open:

  1. Sooner – I don’t know about you, but our people are hungry for connection and we want to facilitate that as soon as it is safe to do so. 
  1. Smaller – Larger numbers of people increases the risk so we want to begin with minimal numbers and train our volunteers so we are prepared when more people enter the building. 
  1. Safer – In planning our strategy, we aired on the side of caution in every decision and put numerous precautionary measures in place. 

The temptation may be to jump in with both feet, but we have to use wisdom in order to best protect our guests. With that being said, here is the three-step strategy we are using, barring any setbacks that may arise. 

No. 1 Launch Home Churches Using Connect Groups (2 Weeks)

Step one of our strategy is having our Connect Groups host watch parties within their leader’s home. In our province, we are still required to meet social distancing regulations within home gatherings so this still presents some hurdles, but we wanted to facilitate connections between our people as soon as we could. 

In order to best manage guests, we are requiring each group to register. Those presenting symptoms or who have recently been in contact with someone infected by COVID-19 will be asked to stay in their own homes. 

During this stage, we will still be live streaming our services across multiple platforms for those who are uncomfortable or unable to attend groups.

No. 2 In-Person Gatherings for Staff and Volunteers (4 Weeks)

Our next phase of re-opening involves hosting services for strictly staff and key volunteers. The purpose of this is more than just to adhere to the social gathering limits. We want to take a few weekends to train and prepare our core team members to be ready for when people enter our buildings again. 

We have created some guidelines that we will be operating from and will be training our volunteers on these protocols. Here are a few we will be using as an example:

  • Guests will be seated in every other row and will maintain three chairs of separation between each household. 
  • Guests will be seated and dismissed through specific doorways so as not to have any cross-traffic. Doors will be propped open to minimize touchpoints. 
  • Vehicles will be parked in every other stall. Parking attendants will ensure social distancing is maintained.
  • Masks will be worn by all staff members and volunteers besides those who are on stage (ie. pastor and worship team), however, social distancing will be maintained on stage. Attendees will be provided with masks if they do not already have one (not required but strongly recommended). 
  • Offering will be collected electronically only. 
  • Screening stations will be available upon arrival for those who may have symptoms. Those who have confirmed symptoms will be asked to watch from home. 
  • We will not be providing coffee or volunteer refreshments. 
  • All touchpoints (ie. seats and door handles) will be sanitized before and after every service. 
  • Washroom capacity will be reduced to half and surfaces will be sanitized and disinfected before, during, and after every service. 

Our livestream will continue to be broadcasted for our congregation outside of those in the smaller gatherings and for those who are uncomfortable with meeting together. 

No. 3 Complete Reopening Following Protocol (8 Weeks)

Once our staff and volunteers are prepped and ready, barring any setbacks, we plan to open our campuses to our congregations. We will adhere to the guidelines listed in Phase 2 and will stagger services accordingly in order to follow the current provincial gathering restrictions. Our livestream will also continue to be available for those who are uncomfortable with meeting in-person. 

Every country, province, or state will have a different approach to reopening as each have their own guidelines and restrictions. This is the strategy we have crafted with the consideration of Alberta’s present guidelines and I hope it helps you create your own in accordance with the measures in place in your region. 

Have you begun discussing reopening with your teams? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments below! We would love to hear what you are working on. 

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