According to David Kinnaman (President, Barna Group) up to 20% of churches may not re-open following the COVID pandemic.
Churches have been closed but some are now re-opening.
Will the churches and their congregation survive?
Pastor’s confidence is declining.
Only small numbers are returning as the churches re-open.
This may be due to the continued risk of COVID infection.
Or it could reflect a seismic shift in church attendance.
What is happening?
Many churches transitioned to on-line services when they could no longer meet face-to-face.
But some churches did not have the equipment or know-how. Their services came to a halt.
Some church members did not have the technology to view services on-line.
- Cut-off from their church, maybe doubting their faith, and possibly cut-off from God
Members enjoying the convenience of on-line services may not wish to return to “church normal”.
Many churches did not receive donations during closure even for on-line services.
Many church members have lost employment and struggle to make any contributions.
But when we think of COVID and its impact on the church, where does our mind go next?
Are we fearful for our personal situation - our health, lives, families, jobs, finances?
Are we worried about our church - continuation of congregational services?
Are we concerned about vulnerable individuals - their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing?
Or do we go immediately into intercessory prayer to our loving God - the one who is in control?
How does all of this interact with faith and commitment?
Much depends on what the flock is trusting in as the “wind of COVID testing” blows on them!
What is their personal faith based on?
What did the church teach them to trust in?
It’s easy to feel blessed by God in the good times when everything is going well.
But COVID has disrupted everything; businesses have failed; unemployment has grown.
Churches teaching a false prosperity Gospel are likely to figure highly in church closures from COVID.
Churches where the Gospel has not been clearly preached are likely to be among them.
Hypocritical churches which failed to support vulnerable people during COVID may also close.
Churches that failed to disciple their flock may lose many of their sheep.
And individual’s faith will be tested: will they run from God or cling to God?
That will depend upon how well they know, trust, and love the true God of the Bible.
It depends on how clearly the true Gospel of Jesus Christ was previously preached to them.
Whether spending regular time with God in Bible reading and prayer is part of their redeemed life.
COVID is indeed a time of testing for the flock (church).
Will the flock continue to stand? (Mt 7:24-27)
Is it correctly founded on faith in Jesus Christ? (1 Cor 3:11)
Has the flock been discipled to weather the storms of life? (1 Cor 3:12-13)
Does it expect and use trials and temptations to develop perseverance? (Jas 1:2-4, 12)
Will the flock remain united during this time of testing, or will the sheep wander off?
Post-COVID, will the flock return to “normal”, or a new normal?
Will the church’s mission in the world be set-back, or find new opportunities in the “new normal”?
Read how some are actively planting new churches during the pandemic.
“The early church had no building, no money, and no political influence. And they turned the world upside down.” - J D Greear
And they were persecuted.
So what are we doing wrong?