“How do we help groups regather for Sunday School?”
This is the number one question I hear from church leaders today. While many groups have met throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by using online meeting tools like Zoom, others have not. The one thing that is common across the country is that people are anxious to regather with their fellow group members, and this is a good thing.
Churches successfully moved their worship services online when COVID-19 caused us to practice extreme social distancing starting in March 2020. If they were not already offering online giving, churches pivoted quickly and provided this means of giving for their members. Groups began using Zoom or other online meeting platforms shortly thereafter. Now, as we find ourselves in mid-summer, the new focus is on regathering groups. As school systems welcome children back next month (hopefully), churches are thinking about how to safely allow adult groups to regather. I recommend following CDC guidelines and the guidelines of your state and local leaders. Even with social distancing, masks, and other limitations, here are 5 ways for adult groups to meet in person during COVID-19 while following those guidelines:
- Meet in your classroom on the church campus on Sunday. Remember to maintain social distancing standards (6 feet) as you regather. I realize that many classrooms will hold only a fraction of their normal attendance with six feet of social distancing, and this may be alright depending upon how many adults return right away. Consider asking group members to wear masks while in Bible study because of the close proximity people will have. You could also choose option 2 below.
- Meet in a large room like Fellowship Hall on Sunday. It won’t feel quite like “normal,” but being together in a larger room with people from many groups still gets you back on campus, allows you to practice social distancing, and it’s better than not meeting! Adult teachers could rotate the teaching responsibility and make it a different experience each week.
- Meet in a room on the church campus on a weekday (or Saturday). Sunday School doesn’t have to take place on Sunday! During COVID-19, groups have met during the day at their churches, using the wide-open rooms to practice social distancing. Does it feel “normal”? No. But for many senior adult groups whose members are not online for meetings held on Zoom, a midweek Bible study experience has been a lifesaver. If groups have the flexibility to meet during the week, they free up a classroom on Sunday for another group to use.
- Meet in the home of a group member. While not on campus, an adult group might choose to meet off campus at the home of the group leader or a group member. This could work well for smaller groups, and it would free up a room on the campus. Because the number of people who can meet will vary from state to state, consult your governor’s guidelines for social gatherings.
- Meet outside (weather permitting). Some groups are meeting in driveways, under trees, at parks, or other places where they can practice social distancing. The cooler temperatures in fall may make this a more viable option in the next 60 days.
As we return to the church campus, things won’t be normal. In fact, they may never return to “normal.” But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ll learn to be flexible, adaptive, and ingenious. The saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention” is true! Groups may discover new ways of gathering together that no one has thought of yet.
What have I left out? What other options do you see for people to start regathering in person?