How Do You Say “Come at Your Own Risk” Without Frightening People?
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Just as there are swimming pools, lakes, beaches, etc. where there is a sign that says, “Swim At Your Own Risk,” there may need to be a similar warning to people as they regather at church. It could say “Come at Your Own Risk,” or “The Worship of God is Wonderful. Gathering in a Church for Worship is Risky,” or “Keep Physical Distance While Worshiping Our Triune God with Spiritual Intimacy,” or “Use God’s Wisdom to Determine Where You Worship.”
As congregations – many with smaller numbers than before the COVID-19 Pandemic – are regathering at their church facilities for worship and other activities, what are the risks? Are there actual risks? How much of a risk is it? That all depends are who you ask. You can probably get whatever answer you are looking for.
I am absolutely not a legal expert. I have no law degree — much less have I passed the bar in any state of these United States. I do not accept any money for offering legal advice. But I do have a lot of opinions. Don’t you?
Here are a few at no charge, so take them for what they are worth. First, if a church has done little or nothing to clean their facilities to any suggested standard, you come, you become infected with COVID-19, and contact tracing indicates you got it at church, that church may be in trouble if anyone chooses to press the case.
See. That was not hard to type or hard to read. Is it true? I don’t know. But I did get you thinking. What would be your opinion back to me?
Second, if a church has done everything reasonable before you come to the church facilities, monitors the comings and goings of people and even does additional on-the-spot cleaning, and after you left they do thorough cleaning again before your return next week, yet you become infected with COIVD-19, and contact tracing indicates you got it at church, that church may not be in any trouble even if someone presses the case.
You see, as an attendee, you chose to come to church. They told you what they did to prepare for you but offered no guarantees. No one made you come to church. You could have stayed home. If the church offers online worship for its congregation and you chose to come to the church facilities anyway then that was your choice.
Third, if a church has done everything reasonable to prepare sanitized facilities for you before you come, while you are there, and after you leave, and they require everyone to wear a mask, they check your temperature as you arrive, and require you to accept an application of hand sanitizer, you still get COVID-19 and . . . you know the routine by now . . . that church can in no way be in trouble at all.
Ya think? Do not be so sure. A hungry attorney may be willing to take you case and try to sue the church. I do not think they would be successful, but they might get a settlement from the church’s insurance company just so they and you will go away.
Which one of these churches do you plan to attend? Wherever you go, be sure you remember you must “Come at Your Own Risk.” Take responsibility for yourself. Your earthly life may depend on it. Be the best possible example to others.
Pray for and support your pastor, church staff, and lay leaders as they continue to make tough decisions about regathering for worship, small groups, missional engagement, and other activities. Pray additionally and work fervently to prepare for a possible second wave in the fall. We do not know that this will happen, but we have time to prepare for that possibility.
Take time to ponder what you and your church learned through this first wave experience.
George Bullard, BullardJournal@gmail.com, June 10, 2020