There’s no question that COVID-19 impacted every church in the country, to a greater or lesser extent. Church leaders have had difficult conversations and made hard decisions in light of governmental mandates, people’s fears, and the evolving social reality of the pandemic. Regardless of how you personally feel about the coronavirus or the politics surrounding it, you will be dealing with how others feel about it, now and in the future. One way to address this is to make sure that your church building is equipped with the latest tools that can help people feel safer about coming back to worship.
The Return of Crowds to Your Church Building
Naturally, there’s some debate about how much people are going to want to be part of a crowd. During this time of mostly online worship, we’ve noticed two growing groups among attendees. The first are the people who have made the decision to go deeper in their faith during this time, and the second are the people who have, at least for now, left the church altogether.
As we look forward to a time when life will get back to something like “normal” and our church crowds can regather, it’s important to think about how you can make your church building more inviting to both of those groups.
Tools to Keep People Safe in Your Church Building
We’ve all seen the portable hand sanitizer stations that have popped up everywhere over the past year. These are relatively easy to purchase and install, and a pretty simple tool that everyone understands. However, there are a couple more tools that you may want to consider including in your church building.
The first are Ultraviolet C lights, or UVC lights. These tools emit light on a part of the spectrum that can kill viruses, including COVID-19. When these lights are turned on in a room, they kill viruses and germs on surfaces that the light reaches directly. However, people should not be exposed to these lights for long periods of time, so they need to be placed in a room, turned on, and then left alone to do their work.
Another place where UVC lights are proving very helpful is in removing viruses from the air in your church building. By retrofitting HVAC systems with UVC lights, you can ensure that all the air circulating through your church building is regularly sanitized.
Finally, another option is installing antimicrobial surfaces. This is frequently done in some areas of hospitals. If you have counters in the public areas of your church building where you’re very worried about germs collecting and spreading, you can consider installing a copper or silver coating on those counters.
The Cost of These Safety Tools
Of course, each of these tools comes with a different level of cost. Mobile hand sanitizing stations are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. UVC lights are more expensive, and you will need to figure in the labor cost to retrofit your HVAC system, as well. Copper and silver countertops are obviously very expensive, so you will need to “count the cost.” The question is what you can reasonably fit within your church budget, balanced against how many more guests or attendees might be willing to enter your church building once you explain how you are using these tools to keep the crowd safe.
In our next post, we will take a closer look at how the pandemic has impacted elements of church design. Meanwhile, to get our latest wisdom on church design and building projects, sign up today for our forthcoming free i3 webinars.