As COVID-19 shelter in place measures wind down, it is pretty evident that Churches who chose to discontinue meeting together, either in person or through means such as a drive-in church, and instead chose to take everything online these past few months, had been met with disastrous results.
We previously reported that 48% of Churchgoers Have Not Watched any Online Services in Last 4 Weeks, that when they do, 15% of Christians are ‘Multitasking’ while Streaming Worship Services. And in fact, 25% of Churchgoers may Stay Home until Vaccine is Found.
A new poll by Barna has found that along with churchgoers not participating in their churches “on-line service’, only 30% of congregants have had any contact with their pastors or elders in the last month. In this case, “contact’ with a pastor to elder would include either in-person contact, such as a meet in greet after a service, a visit to their house, a phone call, an email, a video chat, or contact via social media. One would think that in the midst of these unprecedented times, it would enjoin church leadership to make an even greater effort to connect with their flock.
And yet none of this has happened. It is almost as if these churches simply stopped being churches for the last 3 months, with the expectations for the church body to participate in the health of the body has ceased altogether, and pastoral leadership and sacrifice seemingly completely abdicated in the name of “but Romans 13.’
We reached out to a few people who are not meeting, and this one comments proved instructive and seemed to summarize the whole affair:
“Honestly, it’s almost like the pastor has ghosted us. We see him for an hour live online, but that’s it. We comment on the Facebook page, and no one responds. The chat option during the service is dead. No one from the church has even called me to see how we’re doing, how we’re feeling, if we’re hurting [sic] or if we need anything. I guess things might change soon. We’re going to open for a real service on July 5th apparently, and that’s good, but the whole thing has left a bad taste in our mouth.”
Congregants who are not meeting are also not engaging in other spiritual activities online, with only 15% joining a prayer meeting, and 12% engaging with a small group online or bible study online.
With a majority of churches still choosing to stay shut down, including most of big Eva’s churches, the situation remains dire, and it’s pretty clear that most churches will be all the worse for it. We’d love for Barna to do a study on the churches that have continued gathering all throughout this, and see how they are faring. Something tells us it’s far better than this.