The so-called new normal that COVID-19 thrust upon the world has changed the way in which people work, play, and worship. Where handshakes and face-to-face meetings were once common, social distancing and Zoom calls have become the new way of doing things, and churches have been forced to become much more digitally-savvy.
The short term results are that many services are now streamed online, online giving has experienced a boom, and the church community has very much moved onto the internet. Even when churches are open, social distancing must be observed, and singing can be somewhat of an issue.
A vaccine offers hope of escape from COVID-19-inflicted fear, but even if we returned to the “old” normal, has coronavirus already created a lasting effect for churches?
In short, yes. Streaming services isn’t a new phenomenon, and some churches already considered “online” to be just another church campus. What has changed is the number of churches doing it. Streaming and videography are now at the forefront of the church mission, as it is easy to reach people around the world, with or without a pandemic.
Church giving is bolstered through online giving, and with the systems now in place, it is easier than ever for people to give to their local (or otherwise) church. There will be no rollback – both streaming and online giving are here for the long haul.
Keeping in touch is important in lockdown, and just as important out of it. Email, social media, Facebook posts, and even website updates are important. Even SMS messages can help, especially with a congregation that may be less tech-savvy.
Online discipleship, house group meetings, and other peripheral church events can run through Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet. Don’t want to travel to a meeting on a dark night? Sit at home and do it online. It’s a no-brainer for getting more people happily involved. If this is a feature of an in-person meeting, attendance will be bolstered even further – some people hate online meetings, and the physical meeting could still exist, satisfying both camps.
We don’t know what will happen next. Lockdowns and quarantine could continue for years, even with a vaccine. What we do know is that churches are better prepared than ever before for any situation that may arise, and the world is better for it. When people need to reach out for Jesus and the local church, they might just find the answer in their laptop or through their phone.