The world has changed due to COVID-19, with churches adapting to online and digital tools that will remain relevant and important in the future.
Whether you’re continuing to lead your people during this shelter-in-place order, or you’re getting ready for the day when you can safely reopen your physical doors, these resources will help your church make the most out of a landscape that has widely pivoted to online tools.
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Our video outlines the resources in this success kit, which has what you need to work remotely and to reopen your doors once sheltering in place ends.
Our checklist will help you keep people safe once they return to your facilities. Items covered include cleaning products, suggested procedures and policies, and more.
Returning To The Office After Months Of Remote Work
This article from The Muse goes over important bullets on how to successfully transition back to in-office work, which may be a shock to a lot of people. Here are some takeaways.
Quickly Establish Good Communication Practices
Chances are that while working remotely, you’ve been taking many more frequent calls with your staff, and have been relying on video or phone calls to communicate. Once everyone is back in the church office, you might decide to put an end to those calls since they’re no longer necessary. The problem with this is people may forget to talk to each other in person because they haven’t been doing so over the past several weeks. Be wary of everyone siloing themselves once sheltering in place ends. Be proactive, and establish good communication habits before you grow accustomed to working in solitary conditions.
Remember Time Management
Working from home comes with all sorts of distractions, such as the television, the refrigerator, kids who are running around, etc. But working in the office comes with its own distractions—chiefly, socialization. You may find it easy to get derailed from an assignment because you’re eager to catch up on lost time after not seeing other staff members in person for several weeks. A little self-discipline will be essential when this occurs. Connecting with team members is important, but don’t forget what you’re all there to do. Focus on time management and remaining productive.
Bring Your Home To The Office
The above tips are focused on productivity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strive for a fun atmosphere too. Were there conveniences while working from home that you might miss? Whether you enjoyed working on the back porch or having your favorite TV show running in the background, don’t be afraid to bring some of that homegrown energy to the office. You should enjoy where you work, after all. It’s important you ensure whatever you do is approved for the office, but consider bringing your favorite snacks and drinks from home, or requesting a comfortable chair to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Maintain Some Of Your At-Home Routine
Similar to how productivity should be balanced with having an enjoyable work environment, good communication should be balanced with blocks of time working alone, if that style worked for you at home. Try to maintain some of that independence you found while working remotely. If you discovered you are most productive while working alone first thing in the morning or right after lunch, communicate this with your co-workers.
Georgetown University recently came out with an article on why it’s important to keep engaging volunteers while sheltering in place. Here are some takeaways.
Talk To Your Volunteers!
It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day operations during these challenging times that you let communication with your volunteers fall to the wayside. After all, it’s been impossible to put on in-person church services or events, so you haven’t had the need for some of your volunteers for quite some time. But it’s very important that you keep them in the loop. It may be harder to get volunteers to commit if you haven’t been at the top of their minds for awhile, so communicating with them on a weekly basis—providing updates on how your church is doing—can effectively remind them they’re invested in your organization. Make sure to vary the ways you communicate too. Use Bulk Texting to communicate with them via text message, and then alternate that with group videos, conference call discussions, and emails. You can also help manage them with Aplos Groups & Teams.
Get Input From Your Volunteers
Volunteers may feel undervalued if they haven’t been able to serve, yet their input is super important. Sometimes churches can become attached to how things have always been done. But now is not the time to stick to old habits. Ask your volunteers if they’d still like to serve, and how, and you may be surprised at the creative ideas they have.
Communicating With Your People About Services And Events
It’s not a stretch to say that people will be wary to participate in in-person services and events once sheltering in place ends. It’ll be your job to connect with your existing and potential people, and allay their fears.
Respecting CDC Guidelines
This page by the CDC is a great resource when planning your service and events. Below we’ve highlighted some important guidelines found on that page.
Overall Number Of Attendees
Larger gatherings offer more opportunities for person-to-person contact and therefore pose greater risk of COVID-19 transmission. Consider putting a cap on the number of people who can attend your event.
Older adults and people with severe pre-existing health conditions are thought to be at increased risk. Consider providing a safe area at your event for these people where they can be most protected, and offer adequate warning to these people when inviting them in the first place.
Make sure your venue or event setup doesn’t restrict people in a way where they can’t practice safe social distancing (maintaining six feet of distance between each other).
Limit Contact Between Staff And Guests
Several ways to do this include offering staff the option to telework if they can perform their job duties off-site, using email, and conducting meetings by phone or video conferencing. Reduce the number of staff needed such as staggering shifts for staff who support essential functions and services during events.
Communicating With Your People
Getting your message right when communicating your in-person services and events will be very important. Make sure it’s clear that attendees will be safe, and that you’ve followed through with proper social distancing guidelines set by the CDC.
Personalize The Message
Personalizing your message when sending correspondences like service reopenings and event invites will tell people you’re doing what you can to put their concerns to rest. Include any policies and procedures you’ve established that combat concerns about COVID-19.
Share Your Story
Do you have any inspirational moments or stories from your congregation that occurred while you weren’t meeting in person? Share them via email, letters, social media, videos, pictures, and whatever else you have at your disposal. Use visual storytelling as much as possible.
Reach Out Specifically To Past Attendees Who Don’t Initially Return
You might not know the names of everyone who has attended your church, but you may recognize the absence of people you used to see regularly. Reach out to them to see how they are doing, if they are healthy, if you can do anything to help them, or just to let them know they’re missed.
Continuing To Use Technology
Even when the shelter-in-place order ends, you may realize you’ve found success running your church online, and may continue to operate in that fashion. Hybrid or fully remote organizations such as this will likely become more popular over the coming months and years, so having tools to cater to the needs of both remote and in-person work is important.
Giving Tools That Work Onsite Or Remotely
Giving From Your Phone
In this day and age, people use their phones for everything. It would make sense to offer people ways to give via their phones. Aplos Text to Give allows your people to send their gifts straight from their phones by texting your church’s unique number. With this feature, you can receive unlimited gifts by text message, have your people create one-time or recurring gifts that are set up in seconds, utilize short codes to make it easy for people to give to a specific purpose, and have your gifts automatically tracked for contribution statements.
Giving Through Your Website
Online giving pages are easy to use, and they play a big contributing factor in online giving and in-person contributions. They’re also easy to customize and set up. You can even create a dedicated page to ask for support for a specific COVID-19 need. A widget can be embedded on your website, or you can easily link a dedicated giving page to your weekly email or social media page.
Managing Your Organization Remotely
People management software makes it easy to know more about your people so you can build relationships with them and help everyone feel connected. You can see all the details you need in one place, like household relationships, volunteer preferences, birthday or deceased dates, or personal notes.
Managing Your Groups And Teams
Aplos Groups & Teams lets you view a roster of group members, volunteers, or attendees so you can quickly communicate with everyone, see contact info, and keep rosters and attendee lists up to date.