REGATHERING GUIDELINES for WORSHIP SERVICES
Central to our vision of making disciples for the glory of God is a deep love for our corporate gatherings that prioritizes live worship on Sunday mornings. We are thankful for the existing technologies that have allowed for gathering virtually during this health crisis, and we will continue to make our online services available for those who are unable to meet in-person for whatever reason.
Our ability to meet again will be guided, in part, by our governing and health authorities as we seek to care for our church family and community. As we begin to gather again the first weekend in June, we will use the following guidelines for our worship services.
Please note that these plans are subject to further development as additional guidelines are provided by our governing and health authorities.
Registration and Pre-Service Preparation:
- Service Order: We will have two identical one-hour services on Sunday mornings (8:45 and 11 a.m.). Doors will open 10 minutes before the start of each service. Our Hispanic service will be on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. in the Worship Center beginning Sat., June 6. The Well, our Young Adult Ministry worship service, will meet at Mule Town Lumberyard on Sunday evenings at 6:30 p.m. beginning Sun., June 7. Pastor Gustavo and Pastor Deron will communicate the regathering guidelines for these services.
- Participant Limitation: Each Sunday morning service will be limited to 50 percent of our Worship Center capacity. This limit allows for social distancing guidelines to be met and appropriate measures accomplished as people are entering and exiting. The service will be projected and a limited number of seats will be available in Faith Hall for any overflow that might occur. We will insist on not exceeding the recommended capacity.
- Sunday Morning Service Registration: Everyone (that is, family units or single) will be required to preregister on our website, thefirstfamily.org, for the service they would like to attend. Registrants will receive a confirmation email and will be checked in by a host at the door. Those without the technology will be able to call the church office, 931.388.2655, during the week to register. Online registration will automatically close at 75 percent of the limited capacity to allow for unregistered guests. If registration for one service is closed, please check for availability in the other service or call the church office to verify status of the overflow room. We understand that this process is highly unusual and not ideal for worship services but we accept it as an important tool at this time to ensure adherence to recommended guidelines and provide as much care as possible for all attendees.
- Service Registration Confirmation: Participants will receive a confirmation email that will be presented upon entry. The email can either be printed or shown to a host on your mobile device. For those without the technology or capability to present the confirmation email, volunteers will be able to manually search for their name on a list to confirm registration, but please understand this will slow down the entry process. Unregistered guests will be permitted up to the available space allowed beyond preregistrations. Additional non-registered attendees will be permitted to participate from the overflow room in Faith Hall. Registration for Sun., June 7, will open on Sunday afternoon, May 31. An email will be sent with a link to the registration page, which will have detailed instructions. This link will also be available on the homepage of our website. (Registration for each week’s service will be open the Sunday afternoon before the service.)
- Masks: All who attend the service will be strongly encouraged to wear an appropriate mask/face covering for the safety of others. We will have a supply of disposable masks available if needed. All volunteers serving as greeters and ushers will wear masks and gloves.
- Temperature: All volunteers will have their temperature taken using a non-contact thermometer before serving. Temperature checks will also be available to any attendee who desires to assess their current risk. Anyone with a fever will be asked to return home and worship with us online.
- Parking: All parking areas will be available, but everyone is encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines outside and inside our facility. We will not offer parking lot shuttle service or valet parking at this time.
- Entry Points: Since we are only using the Worship Center area of our building during this time, only certain doors will be open and available for entry. These doors are our Main Entrance, our Office Entrance (under the drive thru), Faith Hall Entrance, and the single-entry door coming from the back parking lot sidewalk. Access to the Student Ministry Center and FIRST KIDS building will be unavailable.
- Hallways: Signs will clearly give instructions and reminders to provide for social distancing while walking through the hallways. Please do not use hallways as gathering points and always adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
- Seating: All seating in the service will adhere to physical distancing and room size guidelines. Chairs will be placed in small groupings and spaced accordingly. Ushers will ensure that households will have the opportunity to sit together.
Sunday Morning Worship Services:
- Times: During this phase, our Sunday morning services will be at 8:45 and 11 a.m. Each service will be approximately one hour in length with a time provided between to empty the building and give our team the opportunity to disinfect our seating and restrooms. Attendees will be encouraged to exit the building as soon as possible following the service to allow ample time for our process to provide the preparation and safety all of our participants deserve.
- Content: Services will include times of music, prayer, and preaching with the understanding that children will be worshiping with their families (see more info below).
- Offering: At this time, we will not pass the plate to receive offerings. Alternative means for worshiping through giving will continue to be provided through hallway collection boxes, online options, and text-to-give.
- Lord’s Supper: When celebrating communion, we will provide individually wrapped, pre-packaged elements. We will not pass the elements but will instead provide a different method of delivery.
- Small Groups: To provide the attention necessary and adherence to recommended guidelines for the worship services, no group meetings will occur on Sunday mornings. Small Groups and other Bible Study opportunities may be scheduled on campus at other times during the week. Leaders of those groups will plan those gatherings and provide communication to their members. If you are not currently involved in a small group and would like more information, please contact our church office by phone or email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will be directed to the Biblical Education department.
- Kids & Students: Families with kids and students are asked to worship together since, at this time, we will not provide activities for those age ministries on Sunday mornings to honor the social distancing guidelines and protection-from-risk recommendations. A special room near the Worship Center will be available for infant care if needed.
- Restrooms: Restrooms around the Worship Center hallway will be available and sanitized prior to each service. Capacity in restrooms will be monitored to ensure distancing guidelines. Everyone is asked to properly wash their hands following restroom visits. Water fountains will be shut-off to reduce touchpoint risks.
- Coffee and Vending Machines: During this time, we will not be serving coffee, and the vending machines will not be available to reduce touchpoint risks.
- Sanitizing: Our team will sanitize restrooms and Worship Center chairs between each service. This process does require a certain amount of time for execution and drying. Please assist us in this by exiting the building promptly after services and be patient as you await the opening of doors before services.
- Greeters/Ushers: All greeters/ushers will be provided with gloves and will open doors for those in attendance.
- Should I Attend? Each person should use their discretion in determining whether to attend our in-person gatherings or continue participating online. You alone know your degree of risk and comfort level for being in groups of larger size during this time. Here are a few guidelines to follow as we consider our unintentional risk to others: By entering our facilities, you confirm:
- To your knowledge, you have not had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a symptomatic person awaiting COVID-19 test results.
- You are not experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.
- You have not had a fever in the last 48 hours.
- You have not had a new loss of taste or smell.
- You have not been sick in the last 24 hours.
- You have not received a positive COVID-19 test, are not awaiting your COVID-19 test results, and are not experiencing other COVID-19 symptoms as designated by the CDC.
We understand that these are unusual times and look forward to the day that we can gather as a church family without the necessity of additional preventative guidelines. Thank you for your cooperation as we move forward in a spirit of love and unity. May we always be mindful of Paul’s charge recorded in Philippians 2:1-4:
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.