As churches progress through the coronavirus pandemic, a major question currently surfacing is, “How do I make the decision about when to reopen children’s ministries, especially those for preschool worship care?”
This can be a difficult and divisive decision, but above all other concerns, consideration should be made to provide care as safely as possible. Listed below are some questions that will help your church with its decision-making.
- What are other churches in my area doing? What has worked for them or needed to be adjusted as they reopened?
- What is the current status of COVID-19 infections in my area? What is the current trend in the rate of infection?
- What are the recommendations of our local health department or health care workers in our church?
- What are the results of surveys to our parents and volunteers on their willingness to return to children’s ministry if reopening happens?
- How many children can be safely included in our children’s ministry areas and classrooms based on social distancing?
- Will we require reservations to be made by families before their children can attend children’s ministry? What will we do if we reach capacity and still need space for children who come to church?
- What age groups are we initially prepared to host?
- What scheduled ministries will we resume first?
- What written policies specific to COVID-19 do we need to create before we reopen? How will we enforce these policies? How will we communicate these policies to our parents?
- Does our wellness policy need to be updated?
- Will we require temperature checks or masks for volunteers or children? Will we document our efforts from week to week?
- Is Sunday the best time to conduct children’s ministry, or could we open for a larger group ministry with appropriate social distancing on Wednesday evenings instead?
- Will we allow food or snacks to be served to children? If so, will they need to be pre-packaged items?
In addition to these questions, the resource Preparing Your Children’s Ministry for Post-COVID-19 provides practical advice and resources to help prepare your facilities for children.
Reopening children’s ministries will most likely be one of the last steps churches take in its progress to a post-COVID level of ministry. It is always best to proceed cautiously and with much thought and prayer to protect children and volunteers and rebuild trust in your ministry.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cheryl Markland is a senior consultant for childhood evangelism and discipleship with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. This article originally appeared in ncbaptist.org. Reprinted with permission.)