The COVID-19 pandemic could be the very thing that saves your church.
That’s a radical shift in thinking, isn’t it?
So why would we say that?
Well, as church leaders struggle with the very definition of what it means to “attend” church and the very definition of what’s a “church” is challenged…
One thing was already clear pre-pandemic…
In-person church attendance was mostly declining…
And people’s preferences for attending church were moving toward online services.
There’s already plenty of existing research to support that claim, so not much time will be spent defending that position.
However, as a short example, pre-pandemic research done by LifeWay Research in September, 2019 showed 50% of respondents watched a live stream of service in place of in-person attendance at least once in the last year.
And 29% attended a church live stream 3 or more times.
And when you consider that the average churchgoer only attends church 8-10 times a year, it’s not a wild leap of faith to assume there are a great many people who were already attending online services exclusively.
Enter a pandemic.
Churches were forced to close. And the mad scramble was on to take church services online.
An entire industry surrounding taking church services online is sprouting as we speak (listen… you can hear it 🙂).
Nobody likes to be forced to do anything.
Nobody likes to be taken out of their comfort zone.
Nobody likes to have the very fabric of their traditions and beliefs of how things should be torn at.
But disruption in any market forces the mainstream and traditional to change or step aside.
Market trends and demand decide what we do and don’t do… not us.
And there’s not been a disruptor in our lifetimes like 2020.
Logic leads one to believe churches viewing this challenge as an opportunity to reach people online, instead of waiting for people to come to them, will sustain themselves.
Churches that shift resources previously committed to in-person services and accept the market demands and trends of going digital will have a fighting chance.
Churches that maneuver and leverage the Internet to engage believers and non-believers, the churched and unchurched, will continue to make disciples.
A lot of churches are behind the curve… some were out in front of it. At least as far as a digital ministry is concerned.
Challenging Our Definitions
Let’s start to challenge our definitions to make the most of what could be the greatest opportunity for positive change in a long time.
What is a church? What counts as attendance? What is the goal of the church.. to fill seats or make disciples? What does engagement look like?
The only thing that is constant is change.
You can fight it… or you can leverage it.
Only time will tell what 2021 looks like for our churches. A lot of theories will be hatched, and terabytes of research will be compiled.
Some will resist, some will adapt. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see the results.