Church Services FAQ’s

Can church services and church ministry activities continue?

 

The NSW Government announced that as of midday on Monday 23 March 2020, all non-essential activities and businesses are temporarily shut-down across the state. These include ‘religious gatherings and places of worship’. It is no longer possible to have public worship services of any size until further notice. This also includes other gatherings for religious purposes, such as youth groups, other ministry gatherings, small groups on church premises and church camps etc.

This does not prevent church staff from using the premises as a workplace, however you need to observe necessary physical distancing requirements:

  • At least 1.5m between persons; and
  • No more than 1 person per 4sqm in any indoor space.

A small number of staff/volunteers could also attend the church premises to livestream services, however, strict physical distancing practices should be adopted and numbers limited as much as possible.

The key thing is that the church must remain ‘closed to the public’, ie not admit people so they can congregate.

 

What about small group meeting in homes or other places? 

It is no longer possible for groups to meet in homes.  The introduction of the ‘2 person rule’ as of Monday 30th March means that households can only have 1 visitor in their home at any one time.  The 2 person rule also means it is not possible for groups greater than 2 persons to meet in any location, other than that those who live in the same household can be together.

On this basis, small groups should now not be meeting, either in homes or any other premises. We recommend you consider continuing to run your small groups through virtual meetings via ZOOM, Facebook LIVE, YouTube LIVE or equivalent.  Our Resources section below has help with this.  You could also host a conference call – many mobile phone plans allow this.

 

Can we meet outside as an alternative?

No.  The NSW Government has banned all public gatherings in places of worship, which includes both indoor and outdoor gatherings on a church property, eg. you cannot run church in your church carpark.  As of Thursday 26 March, social gatherings in parks and outdoor spaces are not permitted, and this logically includes gatherings in those places for worship or other church purposes.

 

 

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

What about weddings and funerals?

 

From Thursday 24 March, weddings may be conducted only with couple, the celebrant, and the 2 witnesses present.  Funerals may be conducted only with a maximum of 10 people present.  In both cases the physical distancing rules need to be strictly adhered to.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

What about church meetings/AGMs?

 

Unless these meetings can be carried out online, they should not be held.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

What are the latest updates on live-streaming our church service?

 

 

How many people can be involved in livestreaming?

 

We have received confirmation from the NSW government that more than 2 people can be involved in livestreaming a service, as per the most recent Public Health Order, under the following guidelines:

  1. The church premises must be closed to the public and this must be obvious from the street.
  2. The number of people participating in the livestreaming must be kept to a minimum, as essential to the service.
  3. Social distancing and spacing guidelines must be followed, and modelled on the livestream.

If I livestream the worship at my Church service, do I need additional CCLI licensing?

If you would like to livestream your church service and include a worship set, please be aware that music focused worship is complex to mix and broadcast and may require additional CCLI licensing. Please click here for more information. Please note that a Streaming Licence from CCLI is separate to Licences purchased through the Associations Bulk CCLI purchase each year. 

Some churches are linking people to online worship by providing a YouTube link that individuals can go and watch. 

 

Worship Services that are offering use of their music without potential copyright infringement

  • Sovereign Grace Music are giving churches permission to use any Sovereign Grace Music published song in a video stream, live or recorded, from now through the end of May. You must correctly attribute their song. More information can be found here.
  • Emu Music are providing free (or pay what you can) lyrics videos of their songs that you are able to use, provided you correctly attribute their songs. More information can be found here.

How do we livestream our service?

There are several ways for your church, if you are able, to facilitate a livestream service. It may involve setting up a small space and whilst maintaining all physical distancing requirements, filming a worship set/prayer/ sermon etc in front of a phone/tablet/laptop and livestreaming this to Facebook LIVE or YouTube LIVE. Alternatively, you can record your service on ZOOM via phone or internet and run a remote livestream Sunday service. Any of these options enable your church congregation members to access from their living room.

One of our Baptist pastors has put together a very helpful resource which can be found here.

Eternity News has also published a helpful article on Livestreaming and this can also be found here

 

Last Update 1 April 4:12pm

  Finance and Operations FAQ’s

Is there financial assistance available to churches from the Government?

 

Boosting Cash Flow
The Australian Government has announced a Boosting Cash Flow for Employers programme and this has been extended to charities (including churches) that employ workers and have an aggregate annual turnover under $50 million. The ATO has updated their website to include how the new cash boost system will work.

All eligible small to medium sized businesses (businesses must employ at least one person and be active and have a turnover of under $50m) will receive two tranches of $10–$50k, totalling $20k–$100k for the remainder of the year. To be eligible for the second tranche, you will need to continue to be active and have at least one person employed. This will occur with the lodgement of your activity statements to the ATO. The amounts you will be getting back will be your PAYG withheld. Please note that these amounts will be automatically calculated by the ATO and credited to your account, there is no need to apply to be part of this Programme.

Note that many churches make minimal PAYG payments to the Tax Office, especially as most of their staff are pastoral staff and receive a proportion of their remuneration as non-cash benefits.  In this instance, it appears that the church will receive a minimum of $10k each of the 2 eligible tranches.

The timing of these cash boosts is dependent on the frequency of your activity statements which is outlined in the ATO link here.

JobKeeper Payment

The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, including not for profit entities and charities.
For each eligible employee, a payment of up to $1,500 per employee per fortnight will be paid to employers, for up to six months, that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer. 
Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.
The program will commence from 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May. 
Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.  An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer. 

Eligible employees:

  • Were employed by an eligible employer at 1 March 2020.
  • Can be sole traders, full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020.
  • Are at least 16 years of age.
  • Are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a protected special category visa, a non-protected special category visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a New Zealander on a special category (subclass 444) visa.

To register your interest and to receive further information from the ATO, you can register here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

 Further information will be available in the coming days and will be updated specifically in the context of our churches

 

ATO relief

The ATO is working with organisations to defer some payments and vary instalments they have due to help with cash flow. These include activity statements, pay as you go (PAYG) instalments and FBT by up to six months. Please contact the ATO to make arrangements for your church.

 

 Last Update 1 April 2:40pm

My church relies heavily on cash offerings and now that we are not meeting, it is going to cause financial strain on our church. What do we do about this?

 

We recognise that the closure of physical church services will have a significant financial impact on many of our churches.  As such, we encourage our churches to regularly advertise online giving and commence online giving if they are not already doing so.  People can set this up immediately.  Baptist Financial Services provides other mechanisms for churches to enable cashless giving.  You can contact them on 1300 650 542.

For church members unable to give electronically, we encourage you to suggest ways in which they can continue to provide ongoing financial support to the ministry of the church. We also encourage you to consider whether there are any expenses/projects that can be postponed at this time.

 Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

Can I claim on insurance if bookings for use of my property cancelled?

 

There is no insurance cover for lost revenue associated with bookings that are cancelled, unless specific cancellation cover was taken out when the booking was made.

Please note that no insurer provides cancellation cover for a cancellation due to a declared pandemic.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

Can other organisations who currently rent my church premises continue to do so?

 

No, unless they are exempted because they provide a service to assist vulnerable members of the public, or they are an early education and care facility.  See FAQ below “What about the ministries of the church that help vulnerable people”.

Last Update 30 March 2:30pm

What about ministries of the church that help vulnerable people? Or childcare and OOSH facilities? Can they continue?

 

According to the NSW Govt Public Health Order No 3 dated 26th  March 2020, a church may continue to use its premises:

“(a) to provide a service to assist vulnerable members of the public, for example a food bank or a service providing for the needs of homeless people, or

(b) as an early education and care facility.” 

“Early education and care facility means a building or place used for the education and care of children, and includes a centre-based child care facility, home-based child care and school-based child care.”

See https://gazette.legislation.nsw.gov.au/so/download.w3p?id=Gazette_2020_2020-59.pdf

Last Update 30 March 2:30pm

What about church meetings/AGMs?

 

Unless these meetings can be carried out online, they should not be held.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

Our church had an overseas mission trip planned. Can we go?

 

No.  A global travel ban is now in place.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

  Pastoral Care & Children/Family/Youth/Young Adult Ministry FAQ’s

How do we pastorally care for our Church congregation while we are not meeting in person?

 

Each church will need to develop its own plans to help congregation members stay connected and in touch with one another during this time. We recognise that this is a very important issue and encourage you to pay particular attention to the most vulnerable the isolated within your church communities. We recommend you create regular ZOOM meetings, WhatsApp groups, email discussions, regular phone calls, prayer chains etc.

In the coming weeks, we will be continuing to assist pastoral leadership be equipped for the changing demands on their role – keep an eye on the COVID-19 Landing Page. 

 Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

How do we manage our youth groups/playgroups/children’s ministries? What do you recommend?

 

In light of the recent announcements from the Australian Government, it is not possible for youth group, playgroups and other like ministries to continue to meet in person. It is possible to continue these ministries online.  See our Resources section for safe ministry online.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

The Baptist Ministry Centre is closed, can I still contact staff?

 

Yes!  As the impact of COVID-19 is continuing to grow, the Baptist Ministry Centre is now closed to protect the health of our staff and support the overall effort to reduce transmission of Covid19. All staff are working from home and are contactable via phone/mobile/email. The Baptist Ministry Centre is well equipped to function remotely and we anticipate being able to provide consistency of service to our churches.

We are responding to many questions and requests and would appreciate your patience if we are unable to return your call immediately.  Please continue to check our website for information before calling.

There will be no on-site meetings at the Baptist Ministry Centre in Macquarie Park until further notice.

 Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

I have further questions that haven’t been covered on this FAQ page. Who do I contact?

 

The Baptist Association is also running a number of Q&A session which enable our pastors and leaders to ask questions and share experiences in a more personal format. We will be running regular Q&A sessions to help via Livestream (ZOOM) to support and facilitate the answers to your questions. A full schedule is also available on the COVID-19 Landing Page. 

Alternatively, please contact our friendly staff at hello@nswactbaptists.org.au or on (02) 9868 9200 who would be more than happy to assist you.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

Baptist Association FAQ’s

The Baptist Ministry Centre is closed, can I still contact staff?

 

Yes!  As the impact of COVID-19 is continuing to grow, the Baptist Ministry Centre is now closed to protect the health of our staff and support the overall effort to reduce transmission of Covid19. All staff are working from home and are contactable via phone/mobile/email. The Baptist Ministry Centre is well equipped to function remotely and we anticipate being able to provide consistency of service to our churches.

We are responding to many questions and requests and would appreciate your patience if we are unable to return your call immediately.  Please continue to check our website for information before calling.

There will be no on-site meetings at the Baptist Ministry Centre in Macquarie Park until further notice.

 Last Update 25 March 12:00pm

I have further questions that haven’t been covered on this FAQ page. Who do I contact?

 

The Baptist Association is also running a number of Q&A session which enable our pastors and leaders to ask questions and share experiences in a more personal format. We will be running regular Q&A sessions to help via Livestream (ZOOM) to support and facilitate the answers to your questions. A full schedule is also available on the COVID-19 Landing Page. 

Alternatively, please contact our friendly staff at hello@nswactbaptists.org.au or on (02) 9868 9200 who would be more than happy to assist you.

Last Update 25 March 12:00pm