Christmas is one of the biggest days of the year for churches. Services are usually full. However, in the era of COVID-19, a crowded church with people packed together is one of the last things pastors want to see.
This puts worship leaders in a difficult position. Christmas is one of the most special times of the year and we certainly want to celebrate, but we must do so with proper social distancing. Here are some ideas for a safe, socially distanced Christmas worship service.
Add More Services to the Schedule
To alleviate the huge crowds, consider adding a few more services to your regular schedule. This can be difficult to do for churches with limited staff and volunteers. Think about how you can split your team up so that no one has to attend multiple services in the same day.
Consider Random Service Assignments
Even if you add more worship services, that’s no guarantee people will naturally distribute themselves among them. To help with that issue, randomly assign members of your church to different service times. This is the fairest way to do it. If some people truly cannot make their assigned time, allow for “trades” between families or individuals.
Try a Drive-in Service
If your church is too small to accommodate any type of social distancing, why not get creative with a drive-in service? This is a better alternative to an outdoor service in the cold winter months. Families can stay in their warm cars and tune in via the radio or their phones.
Use Other Rooms in Your Church
If you’re blessed with extra space in your building, convert it into worship rooms. A Sunday school classroom or banquet hall can be set up with folding chairs spaced six feet apart for social distancing. Use audio and video equipment to broadcast the services.
Rethink After-Service Refreshments
Many churches serve refreshments after their services as a chance for people to connect. In the era of COVID-19, this can be a bad idea. People congregating in a social hall could spread the virus. Instead, try passing out sealed bags of food for your members to enjoy at home. You can even include some extras like a children’s activity book or a Christmas prayer for the whole family to say together.
Consider Ways to Safely Provide Music
Music is one of the most delightful parts of the Christmas season! Your congregation will be disappointed if there are no carols at your service. However, some research has found that singing increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. Think of how you might safely provide music for your Christmas services.
Maybe it’s as simple as requiring everyone to stand farther apart and wear a mask while singing. Perhaps you can play recordings of Christmas songs instead of having a live band or choir. Don’t forget to project lyrics on the screen as a safer alternative to shared hymnals. Or print out song sheets and let everyone take the sheets home.
Stream Your Services Online
There are going to be members of your church who don’t feel safe venturing out to a Christmas service in person. Make sure you stream at least one of your services online. Consider recording them for people to watch later.
Recruit Volunteers to Help Disinfect the Church
Proper disinfection is the key to providing a safe worship environment. Make sure you have enough volunteers for every service, especially if you add additional services to the schedule.
Remember to Preach Hope
Although Christmas worship services will look a little different this year, the message is still the same. Remember that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Even COVID-19 can’t take away that hope!