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S o far, 2020 has been uncertain, and it has been full of great difficulties. But, uncertain times can bring unexpected opportunities, like more down time, working from home, learning how to do online church, and even spending more time outside and in our communities.

What unexpected opportunities have come up for your church to serve your community? If you are unsure how to find out about those opportunities, read “How to Support Your Community Right Now,” by Eduardo Rodriguez, the Leadership and Local Missional Engagement specialist for the Reformed Church in America (RCA).

The RCA Local Mission Engagement (LME) team and their guiding coalition, a group of people who guide and champion the work of the initiative, wanted to share some opportunity ideas for those who are ready to think and plan for the future.

Missed milestones

One specific area that came to our attention is what we call “missed milestones,” or the missed celebrations because of COVID-19 closures. As restrictions begin to lessen and things begin to open up, people will want to celebrate events that they were unable to earlier: baby showers, wedding receptions, graduations or graduation parties, school dances, or sports.

Do you have the space to help your community? Could your building be the host site for these special events? Following are a few resources and thoughts to help you start thinking about these opportunities.

Safety and liability considerations

First of all, we want to stress that these considerations are for when it is not only legal to open your doors, but it is also safe to. This might not be this summer or even this year. That being said, and we cannot stress this enough, make sure to adhere to municipality social distancing, staffing, and sanitation guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.)

Here are some other considerations:

  • Have a plan for who will approve the facility reservations; have in place a timeline for how long that person has to check schedules and other details and get back to those wanting to rent.
  • Have basic information about your space available for those interested in renting.
    • How many or what rooms are available for rent, with description and price of rooms, and a facility map
    • How many people fit with chairs and tables
    • How many people fit without chairs (open house style)
    • What spaces are handicap accessible
  • Check with your insurance company to see if any additional coverage is needed or if those renting will need a certificate of insurance or general liability coverage with the church named as an additional insured.

Establishing a church rental policy and rental agreement

Since different jurisdictions may have their own unique laws, regulations, or standards regarding renting and waivers, it would be wise to consult with local counsel or with your insurer/insurance broker.

If you are not sure where to start, see our sample rental request use agreement. You also may want to consider looking into scheduling management technology and asking what other churches charge for their rentals. Make sure to check with your insurance agency or local resources to understand the all aspects of renting your facility.

Let people know your church is available

Once you have the foundation laid, it’s time to let people know! Advertise in your community by partnering with or leaving flyers with the following:

  • People at the town hall
  • Other churches (partner with them to host events)
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, the local library, and other community businesses and organizations
  • Photographers (people often ask photographers for venue recommendations)
  • Catering companies
  • Schools
  • Community social media pages
  • Neighborhood groups and associations
  • Area non-profits and businesses

Create a flyer for free at Canva.com. It’s easy to use and looks professional. Also, you could create and share a business card with your contact information.

Be active in your community

Now is a great time to both be in your community and be there for your community. Tim Keller, author, former pastor, and theologian says, “If you and your church were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow, would anyone in the community around you notice you were gone?” If your community wouldn’t miss you, this is a great opportunity to change that.

About the author

Local Missional Engagement Guiding Coalition

The members of the LME guiding coalition that contributed to this article are Sue Mulder, Bethany Schenkel, and Kris Woljter.