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Ken Allen

Well, welcome to you and good morning. Welcome to Leadership and Ministry in Challenging Times. I am Ken Allen with the Office of Leader Care and Church Health. We’re so glad that you’ve chosen to be with us today and I’m excited about our lineup and the panelists that we have with us today. I believe we’re gonna have a great time.

Preparing for what’s next is all in our hearts and minds as we attempt to go forward, and go forward in a way that pleases the Lord and certainly honors him and where we can see the church thrive in challenging times as well. You’re on the front lines and we want you to know that we are wanting to be a resource and an encouragement to you as you go through the times that we live in with COVID-19 and the angst of the moment as well. And we’ll talk about that at the very end in our upcoming webinars, trying to continue to help you through these times, assist you where we can, answer questions when we can as well.

Again, excited about today’s line up, the contributors that will be a part of the panelists here. Before I introduce them. I wanna remind you every Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM, Dr. Lance leads us in a time of prayer for approximately 20 minutes. And so please join us on these Wednesdays times, wonderful times to be together. We’ve seen a few hundred at each one of these. And so again, I’m again grateful this morning to introduce to you the guys that are part of this. These men have been a part of ministry, the wisdom that’s a part of this.

So we have Greg Corbin, senior pastor of Lakeside in Birmingham. He is also a chairman of our State Board of Missions and we’re so grateful to have him here to really represent that active front line pastor, boots on the ground, kind of guy. Mike Jackson, by the way, these next few are all office directors here at the state board. Mike Jackson, office director, leader care and church health. Doug Rogers with communications and technology, Keith Hemes with worship leadership and church music, Daniel Edmonds with Sunday school and discipleship. Rick Barnhart, associational missions and discipleship. Bobby Dubois, who is associate executive director and Dr. Rick Lance, each one of us state missionaries and he is of course our executive director. It’s great to have each one of you here with us. Let me lead us in prayer as we begin to get into this time together.

Father, we’re grateful again for your presence with us. Father, for clarity of heart and mind, for being mindful of the 100 plus participants at this time who are here, lord who are all the front line and God, how these few moments together can be a time of encouragement and sharing knowledge. And so we pray that you’d be honored and glorified through your church that we’d continue to be about your work and your mission work. Father, thank you for each man here. Bless them Lord, as they share in this time. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen. Again, I want to introduce our state missionary and executive director, Dr. Rick Lance as he shares with us some opening comments. Dr. Lance.

Rick Lance

Well, thank you Ken. I do wanna welcome you and thank you for being a part of this. Let me just say that I have been clinging to Joshua 1:9 where of course the Lord said, “Did I not command you to be strong and courageous? “Do not be dismayed. “I’m with you wherever you go.” I have a white knuckle kind of hold and clenched fist over that particular verse during this time in which we live. The word unprecedented has been used so many times, is almost become trite, but there’s no truer word to describe what we’re going through and experiencing with the coronavirus. Let me say as a disclaimer, anyone who thanks that they’re not authority and an expert on reopening churches, restarting or whatever is probably overstating.

We’re not trying to come across as experts, and I don’t think anyone here would like to pretend to be one. But what we’d like to do is to offer some practical guidelines that might help you. The guys in our state missionary force task force, they have come up with a very good guidelines, set of guidelines or the date in which, the time at which we are able to begin reopening, which will be a process, not an event, most likely. In the early stages, I was a bit naive. I thought, well, one of these days, and by the way, I thought it might have been Easter, I thought it might have been the first Sunday in May. Our neighboring state, some churches are opening. Their governors have allowed them to do that. In our situation, we do not have clarity as to when that process of reopening will begin, but what we’ll try to do today is to do some iron sharpening iron and help each one of us think through the process of beginning the restart, or the reopening of our churches.

I like to think of it in these ways. We have to consider the fellowship of our people. That is that we have to make sure that we keep them as safe as possible. We wanna get back to in-person worship as soon as possible, but as safely as possible. That fellowship includes worship. Right now we’re worshiping online. That has been very effective. The calls we’ve made across the state have really encouraged us because we did not expect to hear those encouraging words.

Online giving, which leads me from fellowship to finances online giving has done well. We through the state board of missions and partnership with the Baptist Foundation of Alabama have tried to present a very effective, low cost kind of offering for those who would like to use something online different than what they have or maybe they’re just getting started. That is Give Three 65 and I should say give is spelled out, of course, three is spelled out and then 65. So you might wanna check on that because it is an option that you have and it’s something we think worthy of your consideration.

The next word, not only in fellowship but finances, but we have to think about facilities. Those facilities basically have not been used for a while. We have to have deep cleaning, sanitizing in preparation for the usage of the facilities. When we do return more than likely, we’re not gonna be able to come in mass. Well we’d like to, there will not be handshaking and hugging. Social distancing will be in operation. So for some it might just be a hybrid to begin with. That is you have online worship and then some who are in-person, in attendance, or you may of course have multiple services. But what I like to conclude my time with which is I want it to be brief is the future.

We know that what we’re hearing from the state health officials and national health officials, this virus could have a boomerang effect, the second wave if you wanna call it that later on in the late fall or early winter and we don’t know how, we don’t have any idea of course what that would be like, but we have to prepare that in our preparing for what’s next kind of planning. And I think today might not miss there to be the day to be thinking about that. However, six months from now, seven months from now, we may be having to face a new set of circumstances. So again, I just tease that out for your thinking.

Now let me conclude by saying as one of the state missionaries and Alabama banned this live in our state missionary force, we have tried our best to reach out and to be in contact with pastors the best we can. Our information is only as good as you give us on the ACP, which is not as popular as it used be in terms of people turning it in, but we’ve done many cycles of that now. I’ve already mentioned we’ve been encouraged with what we’ve heard. I likened this as being again, suspension between two trapeze swings and Alabama Baptist, now I think Southern Baptist as a whole, have been able to handle that suspension in midair if you will, real well without panic. It’s a common concern but no panic. There is a deepening frustration, restlessness. We have done our best to try to find out some kind of marking or guideline as to when we might be able to begin that process of reopening. I think in a matter of weeks we’ll have some clarity on that. I’m not sure about that. I don’t know that I don’t have any inside knowledge per se. I’ve had some strategic conversations. So then I would simply say to you in preparing for what’s next, let’s look in terms of stages, the early stages, the mid stages and the later stages. And with that I’ll end my comments by saying we’re in this with you and we’re going to help you in a possible way we can.

Ken Allen

All right, thank you Dr. Lance. It is always great to hear from our state missionary and executive director, Dr. Lance and words are encouraging as well as thought provoking toward the future as well. Mike Jackson, now our office director will begin to field questions and submit them accordingly. Mike.

Mike Jackson

Thank you, Ken. First question comes from Bartell. Do state law/health directors currently prohibit churches from regathering as tentative plans to begin to gather in multiple services with enhanced distancing and sanitizing carefully addressed as early as May 17th unrealistic? So let’s deal with the first part of that. Do state law health directives currently prohibit churches from regathering? Any of our state missionaries wanna address that?

Well, I’ll take a chance to give an answer. Basically, the gathering of groups have been limited to 10 or fewer and they’re according to what I understand and according to what we’ve been sharing and trying to help folks and putting together our documents and our guidelines. We’ve tried to encourage that. We have been allowed to do outdoor worship, drive-in type services with individuals staying in their cars, with them properly spaced out and with there being no contact between the groups of folks that are attending in those services. At some point in time on down the road, there’s probably going to be a lessening of that 10 in attendance inside a meeting where it will be upped what that number may look like. It could be 25, it could be 50, but we do believe what we’re hearing is that all of this is gonna be incremental. It’s gonna be phased in. Phase one, two weeks later they’ll observe what’s happened. Phase two will then take place is what we’re understanding and what we are hearing and how we’re interpreting what the governor has mandated or has shared with us and the public health officials.

Okay, the second part of his question. Are tentative plans to begin to gather in multiple services with enhanced distancing and sanitize and carefully addressed as early as May 17th unrealistic? Bart, that’s a tough question and I guess the best answer we can give you at this point in time is that not knowing what the governor’s going to say on May 15th when the safer-at-home order is addressed and whether that’s prior in that week, she addresses that. But the current order, safer-at-home is in place until May 15th, which is a Friday. Yes, there could possibly be some churches that are allowed to gather. Now, we may not be able to gather at full capacity. There may be limits placed on that. Again, we don’t have any insights. We don’t have any definite understanding of what that’s going to look like. So at this time May 17th, may or may not be a good day. All we know is that as we currently see things, we’re not allowed to gather in our churches, in our church buildings, in our facilities or corporate worship at this time.

Rick Barnhart

And then I think, Mike, if I could add to that in the guide that we’ve prepared for our churches, “Preparing For What’s Next” that’s available alsbom.org, there is a couple of pages there that my team was working with, Lee Wright, Scotty Goldman and myself. We were giving some suggestions particularly on your question. Contact mitigation would be that section and some questions that you might want to ask. And then some suggestions that we make as to how to go about like removing hymnals, not giving out bulletins or any other handouts, children and youth sitting with their parents. I mean some basic things there that that will of help to use as you try to prepare your folks to coming back into that facility. Very good, helps there available to you.

Rick Lance

Mike, one of the things we learned that help me stretch my thinking on gathering together is that and Keith is probably going to address this. Congregational singing will probably not be advised because as I understand it, that when you’re singing, the salivic projectiles, I’m trying to be delicate here, can go as far as 13 feet. Now, I didn’t know we could do that. But in congregational singing and you’re doing that in close proximity, even at six feet distancing, it may not be advisable to begin with that in mind. So that’s one little point. The earlier comment about May 15th, the governor is set I think to reevaluate where we are now. The health visuals keep talking about we’re data-driven, rather than date-driven. That’s true. I think that’s what their thinking is, but hopefully the data will allow a date to be at some point beginning this process and I hope it’s not too far away.

Mike Jackson

Good word, Dr. Lance. Thank you for giving us that insight. Someone else wanna address that? I got a couple more questions, but if you wanna address that one, feel free. We’ve got a question from Danny Dean. Danny says, I was asked by one of our pastors, could we have church outside in lawn chairs at six feet distance reflecting on drive-in church? Not sure if this is acceptable, but I need input to share. Anybody wanna take an opportunity to address that?

Rick Lance

Well, right now, let me begin by saying that we didn’t even have clarity on the drive-in services there for a while. And through a little bit of a communication and information sharing later, which has been a few weeks ago, the governor’s office did release something about drive-in worship services or drive-up. But that includes staying in the automobile with the windows rolled up and listening to an FM radio or having the windows down perhaps and listening to someone, listening to the pastor and maybe soloist or whatever on a platform. The idea of getting lawn chairs has not been addressed. And I think having it outside like that, one of these days in the not too distant future it’s going to be rather hot to have anything outside. And that has to be considered. Another thing is that people do not… We’re all social beings and we tend to gravitate to each other. If we’re out of our vehicles and sitting in a lawn chair, I’m not real sure. That’s one of the gray areas. We can try to find that out information, but I cannot give a definitive word on it because we don’t have it. Let me say this, and this is not to sound offensive, but it does sound that way.

We have been asked or I have been asked to give clarity where there isn’t clarity and that is to and maybe even circumvent or usurp the governor’s guidelines because they don’t quite know fit what the needs are and they’re concerned about a lot of things, a lot of issues related to it. Obviously I or no one on our staff has the authority to give a go ahead with churches to do anything, that is to meet or not meet. We’ve never told people what to do. We trying to give suggestions and what we’re trying to do, is the best we can find out if that lawn chair approach which has some merit, we’ll try to find the information about that. But if you go into Walmart right now, the way on a few times I’ve been in, they mark off a six feet kind of approach and you’re there just ever so briefly. That would have to be pretty well true. And by the way, the distance, the social distancing has been around longer than I thought. But initially the social distancing was 10 feet and they modified it to be six. So I don’t know that we have a clear word on lawn chairs. To be honest with you, if we had that, I’d just assume we have it inside the church because you get people outside already. I don’t know if that’s a good answer, Mike. That’s the best I come up with.

Keith Hibbs

I’ve been pretty constant contact with my counterparts in the other states with all kinds of questions concerning how to gather together. I do not know any example of the lawn chairs. I think the idea behind allowing the cars is that is a natural barrier. Dr. Lance mentioned the heat. There’s another factor there, especially if you’re doing singing. The wind may carry those droplets. I don’t know. So I would tend to suggest that you hold off on that.

Mike Jackson

Thank you, Keith. Let me look at another question. Clark Skeleton has asked one of the challenges that our church Vallegrande Baptist, Selma has found is purchasing disinfecting materials and hand sanitizer masks and so forth. Any suggestions for purchasing these items involved? And I know Bobby has been helping us here at the state board of missions with some purchasing of hand sanitizer and Rick Barnhart’s subgroup worked on some of that. I’m gonna toss it to Bobby. Bobby, would you give an answer and give us some information about that? And then Rick, you can follow up after Bobby finishes.

Bobby DuBois

There is a location in the Pelham area that is selling the hand sanitizer in bulk and we’ve ordered some from here. I’ll put that address out on of the discussion page here so that you’ll have access to it, but it’s a 75% alcohol base, which is better than the 60 to 62 that some of the sanitizers are coming out with right now. Very inexpensive as far as I’m concerned of what I’ve seen in other sites but it’s a pretty quick delivery turnaround time on the hand sanitizer.

Mike Jackson

Rick, do you have any follow up on that since your group worked on facilities and general cleaning?

Rick Barnhart

Yeah, I don’t have resources like one Bobby just mentioned. But the critical part of how many people are in the restroom at a time? Are the doors propped open to the church building, to the restrooms themselves? The contact is so critical that the cleaning between if you even do a Sunday school or a worship time, whether they have cleaning taking place frequently.

Mike Jackson

Thank you sir. Again, I think just continue to search through your suppliers and see what they have available and try to make sure that those items are there and available to your people whenever we do get the opportunity to recongregate on campus and in our facilities. Follow up question that Bob Teal had and another person has asked deals with capacity. Do you anticipate that stage restart will be set numbers of percentage of seating capacity? Anybody wanna address that from our group?

Rick Lance

Well that is a good one because if your facility is 75% full, you’re full and how you social distancing, do any social distancing, I’d rather call it healthy distancing with 75% or near capacity. I think the health professionals and the governor will probably deal with numbers. Maybe not considering or maybe not thinking through the size of churches on the landscape of Alabama life. I think they might be able to get that up into percentages, but I think they’re going probably they’ve been working with numbers. Like you can only have 10, perhaps the next time you can only have 50, I don’t know. But the percentage thing I would think you had to have multiple services and have around 50% when you get back together. 50% or less capacity and have multiple services. My thinking is no matter what size church, you may have to have multiple services on like on a Saturday night, early Sunday morning, Sunday, all kinds of things like that. Plus magnifying the online service, worship service for those who are, have underlying conditions or who are vulnerable because of age. And then you’re gonna have families to be very concerned about having their children come into a preschool in an area like that. So those are legitimate concerns. And again, we’ll try to find out if there’s gonna be a percentage marker as well as a number out there. We’ll try to do that.

Ken Allen

Yeah, there certainly is some good ideas that are coming out now from our pastors. As someone mentioned, a smaller church may have a bit of a leg up on some of our larger churches just because of the sheer number. And yet there are those that are large that I begin to hear some ideas such as Sunday school classes meeting outside and watching like at a park and watching the live stream together. So kind of the spin on being able to be together yet still healthy distancing during that time. Churches are looking at registering for certain services if they have multiple services so maybe registering so they know that they have a definite amount at each one. There are some that are looking at an alphabetical range. So there’s a number of different ideas that are floating out there that will try to get a balanced approach to when gathering does begin to take place again. So it’s good to think outside the box. I like that idea of Sunday school classes being able to meet together but yet still at the same time be outside or something like that and view the service. So good thoughts that are going on.

Mike Jackson

Thank you Ken. This question comes from David Hobson. How do you recommend responding to a pastor who says there are times where not obeying the law in civil disobedience is biblical, such as in the book of Daniel?

Rick Barnhart

I’d be willing to answer that the book of Daniel says that Daniel asked permission of the king’s steward.

Mike Jackson

Anyone else wanna address that? And there are those that are getting discouraged and some are even to the point of wanting to defy the recommendations that have been laid out and the guidelines that we’ve been given as a part of that whole idea is that I think we need to error on the side of caution as well as what we need to do is to make sure that we send the right message to our community and to our people that we care for them and that we’re concerned about their health and their wellbeing. And I do believe that this season will pass shortly and I’m convinced that as we are obedient to those in authority, as the scriptures also says, that we find that balance that helps us to love our people, to encourage our people, as well as to set the right example in the light of our public view.

Greg Corbin

If I could speak to that for just a moment, I certainly agree that there are times as scripture says that we must obey God rather than man. I certainly agree that we’re not to neglect assembling together. And so I’m very much anxious as everyone else to get back to gathering on Sunday in the Lord’s house. But I think the issue would be different if churches were just being singled out and if everyone else was allowed to be opened back up and they’re still having sporting events or whatever, but then churches were being singled out. That hasn’t happened because what we’re dealing with affects everybody, it affects all gatherings and those things. And so I understand the frustration. I really do, but at the same time, we’re dealing with a virus and the health and safety of people both in our churches, but in our community in our neighborhoods and in our cities. So that’s a different issue than. So that’s why I think that churches have willingly submitted, and it’s not that we are, at least at our church, we don’t feel like, We feel like it’s the right thing to do. It’s being a good neighbor and it’s for the health and safety of our city community.

Mike Jackson

Thank you for your response, Greg. Anyone else wanna share a word before we move on?

Ken Allen

I would just say that we can meet in groups of 10. I don’t wanna get too too far into this, but the limit is 10 and that 10, if you’re not a part of a family, then certainly there should be social distancing. So I don’t wanna, if you’re a church of 20, there is the freedom to meet, but you’re meeting in groups of 10 and you’re social distancing while you’re doing it. So there is some freedom within that, that’s not a complete shut down so to speak. If I’m wrong in that, please correct me.

Mike Jackson

All right, I’ve got another question. And this one comes from Mike Presswood. What are some options for having VBS if church is not allowed to meet at the church facilities? So Daniel, I’ll toss that one to you since you and your office handle vacation Bible school as well as your work group dealt with those issues, in small groups and meetings.

Daniel Edmonds

Yeah, thanks for the question Mike. The first thing I wanna say is that if you will go to kidslinkal.org, you’ll be able to see a good Zoom meeting discussion with Melita Thomas at Lifeway with vacation Bible school, but also some leaders around our state. And so that would be a good place to listen. They talk about really four that they had identified early on and then in the conversation, some others chimed in with different ideas that they’re doing.

The second thing that I wanna say quickly in response to that Mark is that as I’ve talked with leaders around our state, the good news for me concerning vacation Bible school is they are all committed to conduct vacation Bible school in some why shape or fashion because it’s still the number one evangelistic tool that we use are consistently all of our churches can use. And so they are committed. I’m hearing quite a few that say they will be delaying to mid July or later. Some are doing a hybrid approach of where they will maybe do a one or two-day thing before the summer is over and then use the material on, into their regular church schedule, for example, on Wednesday nights or something like that in relationship to it. Many of them are saying that when they do it, if they are able to do it in July and August because of the idea of social distancing, they will probably try to do as much outside and in large open spaces that they may have in their church as opposed to classrooms because some of the children, social distancing is a little bit foreign to them. I know my five-year-old grandson, if it’s moving, he’s gonna hug it. So there’s some issues there.

But also some good Zoom meetings conducted by a state missionaries, Belinda Strout and Patty burns that hopefully Doug can help direct us to. But at the ring open side and other places, you will be able to find those that do go over some extra sanitation issues that you have with children in preschool, especially because preschoolers many of them, if they touch it, it’s gonna go in their mouths. And so you got to clean quickly. Things like if they’re gonna use Bibles and materials, then they need to bring their own Bible or have their material assigned so that you can address the handling issue. So it is a fairly complex issue, but many people are wanting to tackle it because of the high value they put on doing vacation Bible school, backyard kid’s club and those type of things. So ark, thanks for the question.

Mike Jackson

Daniel, let me also throw this question to you. One of the things that will be asked or has been asked, Stephen Brown asked, in your opinion, will recommendations likely prohibit small group meetings within church facilities initially, once congregational meetings are introduced? Daniel, would you address that?

Daniel Edmonds

Steven, again, that’s a really good question and you’re asking me for an opinion, and I might be one of the world’s worst for giving an opinion. But I do think that within the guidelines of what we’ll see again, there’ll be some things like capacity issues and social distancing that will come into play. I think the most critical issue when you start talking about groups gathering again on campus is the issue of preschool and children. So you got to keep in mind, for example preschool always in planning for Sunday school is one of the most critical areas because you can use a preschool room for children, youth or adults, but preschoolers cannot use adult classrooms. And so you have a limited number of rooms on your campus available for preschool. And so you really have to carefully, cautiously think through those kinds of things.

The response, I wanna say, I don’t share the opinion of churches that I’ve been talking to, is that when they come back to campus, first of all, they’re going to focus on worship and making sure that they can do that correctly and with all the precautions that are necessary. And then they’ll begin to tackle the issue of groups. The prevailing thought for most of them is early on they will have a limited number of groups. For example, some say that they will use some of their rooms for senior adults since most senior adults cannot participate in a Facebook live or Zoom, they don’t have the same capacity or desire that some of the younger ones do. So they will begin to come back somewhat in phases or stages. Ken Allen kind of mentioned earlier that some are saying one of the things that they will do because they’re doing Zoom or whatever for their adults right now is begin to suggest that maybe some of the adults gather in other places where they can also social distance.

And so you begin to have one or two families coming together and participating in their Sunday school class, life group, whatever in that arena. And so again, it’s kind of an end state to progressing toward the the day where everyone begins to feel comfortable with what we’re doing and the church can address some of those other issues that you’re already asking about. How do you handle who comes to what worship? The same would be said about to which Bible study. So it is a slow process of working through that. It is a critical thing to keep in mind both senior adults kind of either end of the spectrum, they’re senior adults and preschool because of the needs of those two groups and how you’re gonna address coming back to campus over time. But it is the prevailing thought that it will be done in stages and probably not immediately because worship will be given the priority for the immediate future.

Mike Jackson

Thank you, Daniel. Thomas Ryan has sent in a question. Can local mayors grant permission to meet in cities where the infection rate are quite low? And Thomas, I’m not sure that we can answer that because again, that’s out of our area of responsibility. I’m going to say that just as the president has deferred leadership to the governors, at some point the governor may defer leadership to those on the local scene. But right now that’s not known. And so to be able to try to answer that, I don’t know that I could you a definitive answer. Chris Gray has sent in a question. Chris says, we appreciate your assistance for churches specifically in their weekday work in their church offices as they begin opening for essential administrative activities. Can you point us to a simple one-page set of guidelines that gives direction on safe workplace practices, routine cleaning, keeping guests safe and suggested sanitation in a church office setting? Anybody wanna answer that? Rick, that was some of your work groups with the facilities. You wanna take a stab at that one?

Rick Barnhart

That was a question that we didn’t specifically answer in our project and are working on facilities and cleaning, sanitizing. But one of the things that we’re practicing here at the state board, if there is a ministry assistant present, there are not other ministry assistants in that suite present. There are certainly social spacing taking place across or physical spacing taking across the board. But I think the one page that we’ve prepared there for facilities could be reworked a little bit and a guide being prepared would be helpful for what he’s asking, which is the office setting.

Mike Jackson

And it’s sad, I’ve not seen many guides or guidelines or documents that have been put together that are that brief of one page. Everything I’ve seen has been quite lengthy to be all inclusive and to be as comprehensive as possible. But I’ll keep my eyes open, Chris, and if I find something or see something that’s available, I’ll make sure that we get it to you ASAP. Barry Casper sends a question. He says, Dr. Lance recently spoke to the aspect of seating capacity on a percentage basis instead of a numerical factor. I like that better. What is the recommended percentage? He goes on to say, Tom Reiner has stated that seating capacity would be 60% instead of the accepted 80%. Is the 60% viable?

Rick Lance

Again, I’ll just say that the governor has used numbers rather than percentages. At some point it would be helpful probably for her to give us some latitude on percentages because as we well know, there all kinds of churches across our state in terms of size. And I do agree. I think it’s more like for social distancing or healthy distancing. I think it’s gonna be more like 50% or less rather than 60. I don’t know where Tom Reiner came up with that number. I think he’s thinking when we come back in a full functional way rather than 75 or 80%, that full capacity will be 60. Well yeah and that would call for multiple services.

Mike Jackson

Thank you Dr. Lance.

Greg Corbin

I’m also worried about capacity if you go to your worship center and you get a tape measure and really look at it and look at, okay, what would that practically be to allow six feet between people or between couples? And then do you need to block off every other pew because you have the issue of people sitting behind you and in front of you. And when you really do that, your capacity goes down much more than you think it does. So I would advise churches to really look at that practically. If you’re thinking about how many services we need to have when we come back and those kinds of things, your capacity is very likely less than you think it is when you look at that social distancing of six feet.

Mike Jackson

Good word, Greg. Thank you. Ken Ledson has shared a question with us. He says, what is the thinking when you reopen perhaps in groups of 50, and making sure we don’t have more than the prescribed number come to each service. Do we have signups? Do we assign people? How do we handle visitors who would not be signed up? What the number would count everyone in the building, including those on the stage, tech people, et cetera? And is that per building? If we have people meeting in more than one building at a time, could we exceed the number of 50?

Keith Hibbs

Can I address that please sir?

Mike Jackson

Sure Keith, thank you.

Keith Hibbs

I’ve heard a lot of folks talking about how to do the multiple services and everything from alphabetically assigned to other ways to do it. I would suggest that the best way to do it maybe would be to do it according to high risk, low risk factors. Maybe have one service that you set up for those who are high risks, senior adults or who have medical issues that would feel more comfortable being with others of that risk factor and then make sure that families sit together since they’ve been around each other. And I would also I think that the number counted would include stage and tech people. I’ve had folks talk about doing more than one service at the time in different worship service areas. I liked that idea, but if you do go that direction, you would need to have assigned access and assigned parking. So there’s no mingling in the congregating areas that they would go in that door and go out maybe another door. A lot of factors to consider there logistically. But that’s my thinking on it.

Mike Jackson

Thank you, Keith. Anybody else wanna respond?

Keith Hibbs

One other word about the visitors, I’ve forgot that part of the question. I would have assigned areas for visitors that may tend to isolate them, but we’re all being isolated.

Mike Jackson

Thank you. Chris Gwen asked is there a voice speaking to the governor for the small church? We have churches that sit 250 that have an attendance of 50. And my question just popped out of the way. Let me see. There it is. I know of one church that sits 350 and has 40. They can easily meet with social distancing.

Rick Lance

We have tried the back channel with the governor’s office and we have advocated for all of our churches. But particularly, we’ve said the smaller churches are in a little bit different category, especially those which are in counties or areas where there have not been as much of the outbreak as there have been in urban areas. But it’s been hinted at earlier, I don’t know. No one’s ever told me this, but I cannot help but believe that when the governor begins to reevaluate, that there’ll be some places that will have more freedom than others if they’re not in high impact areas. Now, I have nothing to go on on that. I wished I did. Right now the governor’s listening to health officials and they are very concerned they’re laser-focused, as I said earlier on the entirety of the worst case scenario. They’re trying that way. And I guess I would be too if I were them.

We’re trying to find something of a best case scenario, looking at the worst case scenario and trying to find a workable scenario. And no matter how good a church person is in politics or government, they tend to think of churches kind of in one way, just people gathering and they don’t think about necessarily the size of it. And except for the larger churches. And a lot of times when they think about worship, since some of them go to larger churches, that image pops in their mind as they’re thinking about having worship. And I cannot help but believe though and again, I have nothing to go on. It’s been very limited on the back channeling. I’ve had to go ways that I didn’t think I’d have to, but I think they’re keeping it very close to the best, so to speak on what they’re planning to do or maybe the next step. But I think that’s a good point. Churches that have had better days when they have a big large worship center and they have a small attendance, I think that is a legitimate question. And when the time comes, if they throw numbers out rather than percentages, which is probably what they’ll do, then that one needs to be addressed.

Mike Jackson

Thank you Dr. Lance. A couple of comments Greg Blant has given us a link to opportunity to find some information and that has been posted in the Q&A as well as in the chat. If you’re interested about office that comes from a group that he is aware of. So you can access that in the Q&A as well as in the chat. Mona Crawford has also reminded us that the spacing as Greg was talking about earlier, the six foot distance, it may mean that you have to skip two pews in between every other, based upon how close those pews are. So keep that in mind. Greg, you’ve been a big help today. I wanna give you an opportunity to just kind of share what Lakeside’s doing and give us a perspective from the local church setting and as a senior pastor and with the heart, both for local church as well as state convention. Give us some of your perspective as you have been working with your group there at Lakeside.

Greg Corbin

Well we certainly are like everyone else, we’re just praying and watching and waiting. I did share with our church that we’re going to reopen with three principles. We’re gonna reopen in a measured way, recognizing the health and safety concerns and the government recommendation. So we’re gonna reopen in a measured way. We’re gonna reopen the prioritized way. That means that the first priority will be worship, and we’ll come back at least initially with only Sunday morning worship and then we’ll reopen in a gradual way. We’ll reopen Sunday morning worship and then phase other things back in. So we’ve shared with our folks that we’ll reopen in a measured way, prioritized way in a gradual way. And I’ll lock in it to many of us grew up going to school. Remember the old gymnasiums, you can turn the the lights out in those old high school gyms, or you flip that switch and all the lights would go out all at once. But then when you turn the lights back on, a few would come back on and begin to flicker and then a few more and they came on, they went off suddenly, but they came on very gradually. And to me, that’s a helpful analogy of how we’re going to have to think in terms of our churches. We flipped the switch really quickly and we shut activities down except for online. But now we don’t have a switch that we’re going to flip that turns everything back on all of a sudden. We’re going to have to initiate what’s most important, which most people feel is Sunday morning worship and then see how that goes and learn from our first attempts at that and then look to phase back in other things. So that’s the perspective that we’ve shared with our folks at Lakeside. And I’ll add one more thing. There are so many unknowns and that’s so frustrating. We don’t know when we’ll be able to meet in person again. We don’t know what things will be like when we are able to meet again necessarily. But we have begun to prepare for, we don’t know when the first Sunday we’ll meet again will be, but we have kind of mapped out what that may look like, what preparations we’ll have to make, what meetings we’ll have to have in advance of that. And so that’s something that we can work toward. We just don’t have the date for it or we don’t know how many services we may have to have But it’s been helpful for me personally. There’s so many things I don’t know or answers that I don’t have. If I can pick some things to work toward, that I can do, that I can plan toward, that’s been very helpful for me personally because we walk by faith and not by sight has a little deeper meaning for all of us now than it did a few weeks ago.

Mike Jackson

Good word, Greg. Thank you for helping us with that. Another question has come in. What about fellowship meals? Some churches are wanting to have their Wednesday night meals or fellowship opportunities. One church here, it says missed their homecoming service in April and they wanna have a meal together at church. Anyone wanna address that?

Rick Lance

Well in all honesty, I think meals cause a whole host of challenges, not only in preparation, seating and dealing with them. And I am probably more concerned about having that than anything we’ve talked about because it’s called fellowship meals for a reason. People don’t normally fellowship at a distance. It’s going to be hard to get them. We’re again, social beings, we wanna be with people and I also believe that if you did that sort of thing, you probably wouldn’t have the attendance you think you might have. And if restaurants are being limited to 50% capacity when they open, then I would imagine that would have to work for churches as well if not more so.

Mike Jackson

Thank you Dr. Lance. I know our time’s about over. I’m trying to make sure I address and I’m scanning through the questions as best I can to help out to make sure one question that comes in that I think is important and we just need to address and give a word of encouragement comes from Danny Corson, one of our associational missionary strategists. He says, what words of encouragement would you have for pastors who are under increasing pressure from members to defy the governor’s directives? The pressure is increasing as businesses defy the orders and some Sheriff’s offices or departments have said they will not enforce the directive in their county.

Rick Lance

Well Mike, you deal with church conflict and this is a church conflict issue. When this whole episode began, we were having all kinds, well not all kinds. We were having various conflict situations that Mike was having and others were having to work through where the leadership of the church wanted to do one thing. The pastor was concerned over here and for a lot of reasons and that has continued. Now, the smaller the church and less urban areas, probably sheriff’s departments will not enforce it, but I think that that one is just almost unanswerable because it is just, it’s embedded with all kinds of conflict. I can tell you one thing we had a pastor mentioned not long ago he has 12 deacons. Four wanted to open and they were vigorously advocating that. Four were adamantly saying we should not do it. And four were caught in the middle. Now try to lead those deacons. If there’s any one, any group we need to be praying for, is we would need to be praying for pastors in general, but particularly pastors who are dealing with churches who are in conflict over what we need to do next. And that one is, as I say, almost unanswerable because it’s just fraught with all kinds of conflicts. And Mike, you may be able to answer that better.

Mike Jackson

Well, Dr. Lance I think that the word of challenge or maybe encouragement to our pastors is that, in times like this, it just takes courage to be the leader that God’s called you to be. And as you step out courageously, understand that the Lord’s with you, he is going to guide you. That doesn’t mean you’re not gonna have those struggles, especially as Dr. Lance outlined that one pastor, bless his heart with 12 deacons having three different opinions those deacons in three different camps. That’s gonna be a challenge and all I can say is that as you prayerfully consider and ask for wisdom from above, and that’s the thing that as I’ve talked to pastors across the state, they say, “Would you pray for us for wisdom?” And that would be the thing I would encourage that we continue to pray for one another. That we will have the wisdom from above and that whatever we do, we will make sure that we do God’s will and that we try to lead courageously, even in the tough times. Leaders have not always made people happy. And I heard somebody say one day in leadership, “If you wanna make folks happy, sell ice cream.” But I’ve got a caveat to that.

If you run out of my flavor, you’re not gonna make me happy even if you sell ice cream. So the bottom line is there are gonna be some challenges as leaders, but rest assured God is there to encourage you. I shared this with one of our pastors who was struggling, and this was a word of encouragement he shared with me almost 50 years ago when I answered the call to ministry as a teenage boy. I had a wise lady come up to me after that service where I made my decision for vocational ministry. And she said, “Mike, always remember this, God bless you. “Make the majority.” And I realize as I’ve tried to give leadership through the years, those words of encouragement have always been ringing in my ears that if I am on God’s plan, if I’m following God’s will I’m in the majority because ultimately, the person I’ve got to please is my Lord and savior, my heavenly father.

So I seek to do that. And I don’t know if that’s a word of encouragement, but I just want our pastors to know we’re praying for you as you lead in this challenging time and as you lead with courage. I’ve got one other question that maybe we can answer quickly and then we’re gonna be respectful of people’s time. We thank you for this. This is probably something we’ll address again. Ken’s gonna give a synopsis of what’s coming up the next couple of weeks. But one question comes in from Herbert Brown. He wants to know any ideas about camps in July. Anybody wanna address that? I know Keith, perhaps you’ve got some camps that are going on. Daniel, there are some things in your area of responsibility. I know there are some things with our student ministry, with Mike Nuss and Scooter Kellum and I know those decisions are still being made, but any of you wanna do you have a word of information?

Daniel Edmond

By and large, the June camps, that issue is settled. July, not so much. There’s still ongoing discussion for July camps because most people are holding out in hope that we can proceed. But probably discussions will be taking place on those in the next few weeks and decisions on them will be put out in the public domain so people will be able to adjust accordingly. But it is a difficult decision because we really want to be able to conduct these camps. Just like vacation Bible school, we understand their importance and we wanna do all that we can to make them happen if possible.

Keith Hibbs

Good word, Daniel. Herbert, I really deeply appreciate your church involvement in our makes music camp every year and we are in the process of having some meetings about that and we will notify all of your people who have already registered, especially when that decision is made.

Mike Jackson

Thank you Daniel and Keith for those responses. I will say to all of you, who’ve been a part of this, how much we appreciate your being in on this webinar. We wish that we could give you more definite answers. We can’t tell you what we don’t know. We are here to encourage you. We’re here to help you. These guys have been hard at work as they work behind the scenes with our work groups to put together a document that we hope will be of help to you. If you’ve ever got any questions about that, you can access that online and go to alsbom.org/reopen and you can find our document and those things that we wanna make available to you. But there are lots of resources out there, other conventions have done their ideas, put those together in a document and we’re hoping that whatever we can get on our hands on, we’ll make available to you and that you’ll use it for your benefit. I’m gonna pitch it back to Ken Allen. Ken, thank you for helping us launch this and helping us think through these items. For each of our panelists, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate your involvement. I’m sure you’ll be getting phone calls, emails, text messages regarding the future and some of those other thoughts. But Ken, you share with us what lies ahead.

Ken Allen

Yes, and I think a big word here is we’re trying to hit a moving target and the big, I think another big word is adapting. This is not a big reopen. This is a soft and slow reopen. And I think adapting to our surroundings is a good word for now as well. And again, we welcome all calls and emails during this time and as you say, we don’t always have the answer, but if we can try to go and to find it and then certainly we will. Again, thank you to all who were a part of this today. Thank you for joining us as well and let me close us with a word of prayer. Father again, these are challenging times and God, we’re so grateful that our anchor holds within the solid rock. And so father, that rock is Jesus and he is the one. So father, our ultimate dependence wisdom, guidance and instruction is from a daily walk with the risen Lord Jesus. And so again, thank you father for being part of great commission work and thank you God for the men that you’ve allowed to be a part of this time and for those men and women who are out on the front line as well, ministering in our local churches, and we thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ. In his name we pray, Amen. God bless.

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