Tough-DecisionsThis  past weekend, our church was faced with a tough decision, should we cancel church because of Hurricane Irma?

Our church is in the Jacksonville, FL area where the hit should not be too damaging (hopefully). So the decision was hard for us because of a number of reasons:

  • The storm wasn’t hitting Jacksonville until late Sunday evening according to prediction reports.
  • It’s Sunday! This is our biggest day of the week and the last thing we want to do is cancel our big day of the week.
  • The likelihood of the weather being fine on Sunday morning as we are sitting in our homes thinking, “man, we could have had church today.”

So for us this was a difficult decision, and I believe all of us found wisdom as we made this decision. I want to share what I learned about making a decision of this magnitude.

1. When local authorities and officials are encouraging businesses to shut down on Sunday, you cancel. 

Look, every school in our county canceled for Friday and Monday long before our decision to cancel church on Sunday.

Most all businesses shut down early on Saturday to allow for their people to leave and evacuate if they felt led to. This includes restaurants, shopping malls, and local businesses. Basically everything shut down.

When this happens, you as a church will regret not listening to officials and aligning yourself with what they suggest.

2. When every other church in town is canceling, you should cancel. 

Here is the deal, you do not want to be labeled as the only church in town having church when everyone else canceled.

This is a bad look, a very bad look.

So watch what others do and allow for your people to feel the liberty to leave or stay in their house for safety.

3. Offset canceling with a pre-recorded online option.

We canceled and offered a pre-recorded teaching video and prayer time that went public on our Facebook page on Sunday morning.

This allowed for those who could attend church to watch in the safety of their home.

This showed that we valued church, but we also valued the safety of our people. Sometimes when we force having church, it shows that we devalue the safety of our people.

4. Don’t wait too late to cancel services, be proactive

Be proactive about the decision. Don’t wait. For example, don’t wait until Saturday evening or early Sunday morning to make a decision.

Make the decision early enough for you to communicate to your people and prepare an alternative online option.

Usually with hurricanes, bad weather, or even a snow storm, businesses cancel in advance and the church can follow suit.

5. Communicate on all platforms about the decision

Send text, post on all social media accounts, and email your people about the decision.

Do not assume that everyone will get the memo. We also asked for our team leaders to communicate with their teams individually to ensure that no volunteer misses the memo.

[Question]: Have you ever had to cancel a weekend service due to bad weather? If so, what would you add to this list? What did you learn from the decision?

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