The new Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus has pushed the recovery back a few steps. Some communities have now returned to wearing masks. But some have strong feelings about no mask.
In May, the Biden Administration communicated the good news that masks were no longer required for vaccinated Americans.
We all celebrated that the worst was over and we could resume life as we knew it.
Well, that celebration was short-lived.
The new unexpected Delta variant has extended the life of the pandemic roller coaster.
Some blame the new resurgence on people not getting vaccinated.
But what about those people who have natural immunity, have reasons to not get vaccinated, or are simply waiting for final FDA approval?
Every person and every situation is different. And as Christians, we know we are not to judge others.
This vaccine and mask debate has created a big divide. And unfortunately, some of that division is in the church.
Church Leaders Are Caught In The Middle
Church leaders are dealing with a new challenge. They are being questioned by well-meaning members about Covid related issues.
Some members don’t want to attend church unless everyone wears a mask. Other members don’t want to attend church if they are pressured to wear a mask.
Some volunteers refuse to serve unless everyone wears a mask and other volunteers push back on mask mandates.
Church leaders need to walk a tightrope to ensure everyone is heard and everyone’s issues are acknowledged.
Regardless of personal opinion, church leaders aim to keep members and volunteers happy.
Church leaders are committed to keeping everyone safe – and don’t want to lose anyone in the process. This is a tricky position to be in.
5 Tips For Navigating The Mask And Vaccine Debate
1. Respect All Viewpoints
We all come from different backgrounds and filter information through our own personal lens. Personal filters are created through life experiences.
Because we all have a different way of looking at this challenging situation, we need to attempt to first understand.
People who have strong feelings about masks and vaccines are attempting to do their part to keep the pandemic in check.
Others who have strong feelings about mandates of any kind are attempting to exert personal freedom of choice.
These members are those who feel like they should be able to decide what is in their best interest. And sometimes, that means not getting vaccinated or wearing a mask.
Our job as church leaders is to not judge these personal viewpoints but to try and understand and demonstrate respect – regardless of our personal opinion.
2. Maintain Effective Sanitation
One thing we can all agree on is effective sanitation. If we have learned anything this past 18 months it is personal hygiene and cleanliness is an effective deterrent to contracting the virus.
Some have gotten slack on maintaining the high levels of sanitation that were common at the peak of the pandemic.
Meet with custodial staff and reinforce proper sanitation procedures.
Make sure masks and hand sanitizer are available for all volunteers and members to readily access.
Stay on top of ordering needed sanitation supplies. Create a cleaning schedule and be consistent with sanitation procedures.
A sanitized church is a safe church.
3. Be Diligent With Communication
We talk a lot about the importance of effective communication when managing a church.
However, when we are all in the middle of a challenge (like this pandemic), it is even more important to communicate.
Use the pulpit to communicate what steps the church is taking to maintain a safe environment by increased sanitation procedures, social distancing, and providing masks and hand sanitizer.
Acknowledge the differences in perspectives and share how the church strives to honor differing viewpoints.
Give high-risk members the option to continue online services for the foreseeable future.
Try to remember that in the art of communication, more is always better.
4. Conflict Resolution
It is a sad fact, but sometimes conflict happens in the church.
No one likes conflict. If a conflict arises in your church because of varying opinions, nip it in the bud.
Seek to find the source(s) and work to resolve differences. Allow everyone to share their perspective. Acknowledge everyone’s feelings and facilitate a conversation to help resolve the tension.
Offer solutions by re-communicating what the church is doing to maintain a safe environment. Remind members of the option to attend online services – until this rise in cases diminishes.
5. Pray Without Ceasing
As Christians, we know the power of prayer.
Activate your prayer teams and home groups and provide them with prayer points.
Remind them of what the Bible says and encourage them to seek God’s grace and guidance through these challenging times.
Speak from the pulpit about the importance of individual prayer for the church, your city, and the nations of the world.
God Is Still In Control
None of this surprises God. Rest in the assurance that He has things under control.
Acknowledge and respect differing perspectives and work to balance how the church responds.
This pandemic has forced the church to adjust on a dime and to change how church services are done.
Be diligent in prayer, communicate often and offer options to concerned members and volunteers. This respect and commitment to safety will communicate all that the church is doing to keep members safe as the pandemic continues.
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