What Will the Church Look Like AFTER COVID19?
I have been asking myself lately this question, What Will the Church Look Like AFTER COVID19? Right now as we are still in the midst of the virus I would have to honestly say, I don’t know. Truthfully anyone who attempts to answer this question doesn’t know either. Not really. Not fully. One reason why is that we have never been through anything like this and we are not yet on the other side.
The future for the Church in America, at least in terms of its physical appearance is in flux. Since Jesus left the earth and promised to come back again, there has always been and will always be a Church. Yet how the Church looks, the shape and form of its mission and ministry are undergoing massive change. That change was already happening well before COVID19. As my friend Dennis Moses says, “COVID19 is the great reveal showing where the Church was already weak.” The weakness was already there. COVID19 simply brought them to light.
While we might not be able to predict with accuracy what churches will look like moving forward there are some trends that have developed. Let me share a few that I am reading about.
“The New Sunday Morning,” is a recent study done by Barna that shows some alarming trends. Among their findings are the following:
- Half of churched adults have NOT streamed a church service in the past four weeks.
- Half of Millennial practicing Christians have not viewed an online service in the past four weeks.
- The percentages of Gen X and Boomers who have stopped attending online services (35% Gen X, 26% Boomers)
- 1 in 3 practicing Christians are still and only attending their Pre-COVID church.
- 34 percent admits to streaming a different church service online other than their own, essentially “church hopping” digitally.
- 32% says they have done neither of these things.
The above begs the question, are we impacting the number of people we think we are? Recent studies are showing that we are connecting with much fewer than we think. Yet I still hear preachers bragging about how they are engaging with more people than ever. Are we really? And how effective is that engagement?
The Barna study quoted above on this subject found, “A number of churchgoers also admit that attending online services offers an opportunity for them to multitask while the service is streaming.” This begs the question of whether or not our preaching and teaching are making an impact or not. I am hearing from many church leaders in the various groups I follow that their members are experiencing video fatigue. People are over the novelty of you streaming your service live.
You might be saying, “Yes, but that is now, what about when we can meet back on campus?” Right now for the few that are attempting on-campus worship the results are far less than what we thought or hoped for. On average churches are seeing around 30% of their pre-COVID attendance showing up for on-campus services. The question, we must ask is whether even with a vaccine will attendance come back to where it was? As attendance was already in decline before COVID, I seriously doubt we will see any time soon a return to normal.
This might be grim news. However, it is the reality that we are now living in. This is one reason why it is imperative that you have a plan of action to address financially what the above trends are challenging you with. The church that prepares for future now is the church that will survive into the future. Let’s start that preparation NOW!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach