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Can You Livestream from Church During a Lockdown?

Yes, you are essential personnel-- so let’s act like it
Can You Livestream from Church During a Lockdown?
Image: Photo by Highpoint Church

A few years ago, I had the honor of addressing the Army Chief of Chaplains annual training. I remember a lot about that day, since talking to a room of a thousand soldiers was intimidating at best. General Carver, the Army Chief of Chaplains at the time, invited and hosted.

At one point I asked him—though I don’t remember my exact words-- about how, in a day where church and state are separating, the Army is recruiting and funding chaplains. He pointed out that they were of all different faiths but, quoting him, “There is a reason the Army pays for chaplains who jump out of airplanes—because soldiers need them.”

That quote resonated with me. As such, I remembered his exact words. And, they came back to me this week.

Can We Still Go to Stream?

Right now, pastors are asking (particularly from California and New York, but perhaps soon from everywhere), if they can meet to record and/or broadcast their services when only “essential” activity is allowed.

We know that grocery stores, gas stations, and your local electrical utility will still be working. We need them. They are essential.

But, what about the church? What about places of worship?

I reached out to administration officials who explained that the broadcast of churches from their places of worship (with minimal teams and with social distancing) is an essential service.

They also reminded that CDC guidelines should be followed. The CDC Guidelines he linked to are at the end of this article.

Finally, the official mentioned that the answer is yes from a national perspective, but you should also check with your local authorities if you have questions.

My Reminder to You

Here is what I want you to hear CLEARLY right now, pastors and church leaders. Moving online is not the crisis. Getting your stream working is not the crisis. Even your coming financial challenges are not the crisis.

The crisis is 3 weeks away and getting closer every day. The numbers are growing every day. We continue to track like Italy every day.

And, if the army can get chaplains to jump out of airplanes, we need pastors ready to encourage their people today for what is coming tomorrow.

So, if you had questions about, “Am I essential in this crisis?,” the government just told you that you are. And, we need to act that way by preparing messages that are appropriate to the moment.

So, this Sunday:

  • -comfort your people
  • -tell them that God is not surprised and He is still at work
  • -remind them to be safe
  • -prepare them for the coming crisis and their part in addressing it
  • -call them, again, to the mission of Jesus, showing and sharing the love of Christ

This is not nearly as scary as jumping out of airplanes, but just as important. Lead well, pastors. You are essential personal, so if you need to lead from your church location, do that and let’s make a difference.

From the HHS handout for faith leaders.

“Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable sources of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress, including the growing presence of COVID-19 in different parts of the country. As such, these leaders have the unique ability to address potential concerns, fears, and anxieties regarding COVID-19. Additionally, by reiterating simple hygienic precautions and practices, these leaders can broadly promote helpful information, managing fear and stigma, and restoring a sense of calm into the lives of those in their care. Such leaders are also poised through their acts of service and community relationships to reach vulnerable populations with essential information and assistance. These acts of service are an essential part of the safety net for the vulnerable in their communities.”-HHS on the role of faith-based and community leaders

CDC Guidelines

-Identify space that can be used to separate sick people if needed.

-Develop an emergency communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information to workers and those you serve.

-Identify actions to take if you need to temporarily postpone or cancel events, programs, and services, especially for groups at greater risk such as older adults or people with chronic health conditions.

-Promote the practice of everyday preventive actions.

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.

  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  • Stay home when sick.

-Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your organization (e.g., soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, and a couple of disposable face masks, just in case someone becomes sick during an event).

-Plan for staff absences by developing flexible attendance and sick-leave policies, plan for alternative coverage, and monitor and track COVID-19 related staff absences.

-Engage with stigmatized groups and speak out against negative behaviors to help counter stigma and discrimination.

If there is COVID-19 in your community:

-Stay informed about local COVID-19 information and updates.

-Put your emergency operations and communication plans into action.

-Communicate with your community members if events and services are changed, postponed, or canceled.

-Emphasize everyday preventive actions through intensified communications with employees and visitors to your organization.

  • Stay home when sick.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.

  • Wash hands often.

  • Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet).

-During an event, if someone becomes sick separate them into an isolated room and ask them to leave as soon as possible.

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Can You Livestream from Church During a Lockdown?