The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about the way we socialize, and church services are no exception. The drive-in church has emerged as an alternative that allows members to maintain the fellowship that they need while staying safe during these unprecedented times. As you set up a drive-in church service, there are numerous guidelines that you can put into place to help keep everyone as safe as possible.
Consider these guidelines to allow church members to fellowship while staying safe:
Close Your Building
As you set up your facility for a drive-in church, be sure to close the main building and restrooms. This will ensure that you’re following state and local guidelines, keep parishioners safe, and encourage them to shelter in their cars instead of milling about the property. It will also limit the area that you’ll have to clean and sanitize after each church service to keep everyone safe.
Explain Vehicle Rules in Advance
Before you begin a drive-in church service at your church, spend some time educating your members about the rules regarding the service and their vehicles. Explain to them that everyone will need to stay in their vehicle for the duration of the service, with their windows rolled up, and maintain a six-foot distance from other congregants.
If there are any local ordinances regarding the occupancy of outdoor areas, you’ll also want to include this in your instructional materials. You can distribute this information using your church’s website, social media accounts, and on the screen before you begin the service. This helps make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows the guidelines.
Follow Local Stay at Home Ordinances
As various strains of COVID-19 spread across the country, some localities are locking down while others are opening up. This makes it especially important for your members to know about any local stay-at-home ordinances in your area so that they can follow them and stay safe. If services will be canceled or the number of members who will be allowed on the premises will be limited due to changing local guidelines, you can share this information the same way you would distribute information about bad weather.
Control Traffic Flow
Clearly explain the traffic flow at the drive-in church location, so that everyone knows where to go and there’s no need to get out of vehicles or open windows. If the route is confusing or complicated, you may find that having parking attendants on hand can help keep things organized. These volunteers can make sure that vehicles follow the appropriate route and that everyone maintains correct social distancing throughout the services.
Avoid Paper Handouts
Research hasn’t determined how long COVID-19 can live on surfaces, so it’s best to avoid paper handouts for the time being. If you’d like to provide your members with song lyrics, scripture, or other materials throughout the service, consider utilizing a location that has a projector. This will allow you to share printed materials with them throughout the service, without the risk of cross-contamination.
Collect Offerings Safely
Consider utilizing contactless methods for collecting offerings, such as online forms that allow members to submit their offerings in advance. Offerings collected after a drive-in church service should be contactless. Consider using buckets on the way out of the drive-in location. Anyone who will be handling the money should wear gloves and be careful to wash their hands after doing so.
Make Pandemic Safety Choices Visible
As you prepare for your church service during the COVID-19 pandemic, help keep your members at ease by making your safety choices visible. Volunteers should be masked and maintain an appropriate distance. Clear signage on locked buildings can help to explain the situation. Educational messages on your social media sites and web properties can also serve to educate your congregation about why you are making these decisions. Demonstrating how you are keeping everyone safe will go a long way towards helping members feel more secure about attending church.
During trying times, church members rely on their faith more than ever. Creating an alternative church service allows your congregation to gather and worship, while still keeping everyone safe. Consider putting these guidelines into place and creating a drive-in church service, so that everyone can continue to gather.