Covid-19 Reopening Plan
As the novel coronavirus has spread across the world, bringing with it the disease commonly known as COVID-19, churches across the nation have experienced a radical change in their ministries and worship gatherings. As our nation begins to take steps toward reopening, we know that many questions exist as to how this impacts the local church and its ability to meet and gather together.
The leadership of NaplesChurch has worked to craft a plan that begins the process of answering these questions. These answers are rooted in wisdom from the following sources:
- We have prayed and continued to ask God for wisdom for our specific church.
- In addition, we have sought wisdom from spiritual mentors & pastors of our pastors and the NaplesChurch advisor team.
- We’ve worked closely with our local COVID Task Force Commander for Collier County.
- We’ve distributed and received surveys from the people of NaplesChurch.
The answers provided in this plan seek to inform our church family, move us along a wise path, and preserve the unity of our church body, while at the same time taking into consideration the safety of our community and our gospel witness to our neighbors.
This document is written to bring clarity in two areas. First, to help explain a spiritual foundation for making decisions during this season. Second, to summarize how we will be moving forward and communicate what a new normal could look like as we move into the days ahead.
What Spiritual Foundation Are We Using to Make Decisions?
#1: Obedience To The Mission Of Jesus. In Acts 1:8, Jesus gives us this charge: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
As an unbelieving world watches the church during this season, we must maintain a balance of walking in faith and walking in wisdom. Our witness to the world around us should balance living in faith instead of fear, while also being wise in our behavior so as to not harm the reputation of the church and the gospel. We should always consider, first and foremost, how our actions and decisions convey a witness of the gospel to the world around us. As we have stated, the church of Jesus is not a building or a gathering. Instead, the church is you and me.
#2: The Command to Love Our Neighbor. Jesus clearly commands us to love our neighbors. In fact, he says that every aspect of the Christian faith hinges on loving God and loving our neighbors well (Matthew 22:34-40).
Simply put, we want to be good neighbors. So, as we continue to learn more about this virus and its impact on local communities, our motivation should not be found in what rights we have as a church, but rather in humility, with an immense desire to show the love of Jesus in our decisions and actions. Jesus’ entire life was an example of humbly laying down his rights for the sake of the gospel and the good of others.
#3: The Command to Respect & Honor Authority. While churches are officially open, both federal and state governing authorities have established recommendations and guidelines for churches in regards to social distancing, limiting group size, etc. We believe that the Bible clearly calls on us to honor those in authority (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13). Thus, we will strictly follow these recommendations and guidelines. We are not philosophically or theologically opposed to taking a stand against civil authorities for the sake of the gospel when we deem it necessary due to a matter of sin. However, this is not one of those occasions. Churches are not “caving to government pressure to shut down.” Should we ever need to do so, we would seek to say the same as Peter and the other Apostles did in Acts 5:29. That is not what we are doing in this case. Rather, this is wisdom, honor, deference, and cooperation.
#4: A Desire To Care For The Least Of These. We have a deep desire to care for the most vulnerable among our church family and our community. When the doors of the church are opened, those in our congregation who are at risk will likely be among those who want to return immediately, and we want to be prepared with proper sanitizing methods and plans, as well as the recommended social distancing protocols that will keep each person safe. We want to demonstrate that we have equal concern for the weakest among us, and part of the job of shepherding means giving as much care as possible to each member of our church family (Acts 20:28).
#5: A Desire To Walk In Wisdom, Not Foolishness. The Bible teaches us that wisdom is more profitable than gold or silver and brings joy and life to those who seek it (Proverbs 3:13-18). Therefore, we believe that the best choice is always the wise choice. In making decisions and developing a plan for moving forward, we have sought both the wisdom of God (James 1:5, Proverbs 2:6) and the direction of wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 21:5, Proverbs 15:22). As followers of Jesus, we should desire to both think wisely in how we make decisions and walk in wisdom with our actions in life.
What Does the NaplesChurch Re-Opening Plan Look Like?
While we feel confident that we have developed a reasonable and wise pathway forward, we do realize that the nature of this pandemic can sometimes change daily.
With that in mind, we offer the following tentative plan for restarting in-person worship gatherings and other in-person ministries at NaplesChurch.
COVID-19: New Reality (Currently scheduled through Sunday, June 7th 2020)
- All worship experiences will remain online only.
- All Small Group gatherings will continue to meet online only.
- Growth Track and Small Group Trainings will happen online only.
- All NaplesKids and NaplesYouth ministry activities will remain online only.
Phase One: Restart Plan (Currently scheduled to begin Sunday, June 7th)
- In-person worship gatherings will resume, with limitations at the NaplesChurch building.
- All in-person worship gatherings will be “family-worship” style, with kids attending the service with their parents.
- There will be staggered service times in order to allow for sanitizing between services.
- Gathering sizes will be strictly limited by social-distancing guidelines.
- Worship gatherings will employ recommended precautions provided by the CDC and the Florida Attorney General. These may include social-distancing protocols, masks, hand sanitizing, temperature checks, limited gathering size, etc.
- Touch-free environments will be provided in every measure possible (doors propped open, family units remaining a minimum of 6 feet from one another, staff/volunteers wearing masks and gloves, etc.).
- No food or drinks will be provided during this phase
- No NaplesKids ministries or activities will be open, due to regulations imposed with social distancing.
- There is a possibility of employing worship-service reservations in order to properly manage service crowd size.
Phase Two: A New Normal (As comfort and safety increases, we will resume more regular activities in addition to our worship services. At this time, it is difficult to predict what this new normal may include, but we anticipate things such as the list below, while continuing to practice recommended safe distancing guidelines.)
- Continuing in-person worship services (increasing size limits as time/guidelines allow).
- Continuing online options for worship, Small Groups, Growth Track and Leadership Training for those who prefer to continue online.
- Restarting in-person Small Group gatherings.
- Restarting in-person ministries and programming for kids and student ministries.
We want to be completely clear with one more thing: We are proud of you, NaplesChurch. While we have not been able to meet in person for weeks, you have not stopped being the church! You have continued to love God by joining us online in worship. You’ve continued to love your neighbors well. You have found ways to serve our city. You’ve continued to be faithful and go above with your generosity. During these difficult days we have actually increased our community engagement and outreach to our community, instead of decreased it. All of this is evidence of one thing: YOU are the church. The church isn’t a building. The church isn’t a gathering. The church is a people who love God so much that they are moved to love people and help by giving hope to the hurting. No matter what lies ahead, the mission remains. We’re grateful to BE the church of Jesus alongside you in our community.