While your initial reaction to lifting some shelter in place restrictions may be that we can go back to “church as normal,” the reality we have found out is many things we consider ‘normal’ may be far off – Church BBQs, Potlucks, and even classrooms for some people, or small groups from other people may be slower to phase in than simply permission to meet together.
In light of that, how you engage your community, and welcome first-time guests will also look different through this process.
While you may practice distancing at your church, have hand-sanitizer available, or have ushers opening doors more often now so people don’t have to touch them, you may want to take a look at some of the visuals in your building that your members may not even notice because they’re used to it, but first-time guests may notice right away.
Do you have any posters of people hugging – maybe with your core values or tagline on them? Maybe a banner of kids playing in the hallway? What about that picture in the bulletin template of someone putting their hand on another person’s shoulder to pray, or your small group announcement slide of friends sitting next to each other for coffee?
While it’s possible to go overboard in being ‘hyper-sensitive’ to the images that surround us, it’s also important for us to find a balance and be aware of how some of those images may feel outdated to a guest.
Have you noticed while watching TV in the last couple weeks that it seems odd to see people who have never met before shaking hands, or watching crowds of people together at a concert or in a movie theatre? In a short amount of time, we’ve started noticing things that used to be unnoticed
Besides reviewing the visuals that were in your space up until a few months ago, what about considering the signage that could be helpful in making guests feel comfortable:
- Signage in the restrooms about washing hands for at least 20 seconds (Instead of suggesting they sing Happy Birthday, provide an encouraging scripture that takes about 20 seconds to read.) Most people don’t need reminding to wash their hands, but there is a bit of comfort knowing that it’s at the forefront of the mind of the church.
- Signage by the kids classrooms that talks about our sanitizing procedures. Do you sanitize toys between services? Use 2 sets of toys so there isn’t sharing week to week? Have extra volunteers so the kids can make regular trips to the restrooms to wash hands before and after snack?
- Signage for welcoming families where the parents want the kids to stay with them instead of class. Have signs that make them feel like this is normal instead of making them feel like outliers by being willing to come to church. Have some coloring pages or activity pages with crayons that match the coloring pages for classrooms that day.
- Signage clearly showing where hand sanitizer stations and restrooms are located. Make it easy for people to find their way around in a time that may seem uncomfortable.
We at Church Banners have a whole line of banners, welcome signs and more all dedicated to helping solve this need. Take a look at our Welcome Back solutions.