COVID-19 Has Changed the Local Church
In my opinion, the coronavirus will change our church life forever. We have been compelled to distrust crowds, handshakes, public spaces, and hugs. Each contact may be a death wish, particularly for those 60 years older with pre-existing health conditions. The local assembly is exactly what we are being told to avoid.
At some point a vaccine will be found, but I believe some fallout will be permanent and leave us with the following predictions:
- Some older people will not return for in-church worship services for months or even years. Most definitely they will not return until we get a proven and safe vaccine or until millions have contracted the virus and have created antibodies to fight further transmission.
- Smaller worship services will be normal. We are already seeing churches moving to smaller worship gatherings, even if the church is growing.
- We anticipate larger churches will attempt to have services capped around 250 to 300. Smaller capacity churches will have a much smaller gathering. For example, a 200-attendance church may move to two post coronavirus worship services.
- Social distancing will permanently change some of the traditions in many churches. Stand and greet is gone and will not return in many churches. Church huggers will no longer be tolerated. Even handshakes will be replaced with elbow bumps.
- It will be a time when Pastors will have to roll up their sleeves and work harder to provide, on-line live streaming content that is relevant, edifying, and superior to anything else the world is ready to give people.
- With on-line streaming there must be a concerted effort to develop something new that addresses the issues at hand, and ministers to people in their time of need.
- A big problem churches are having is “how to” convert just viewers into disciples? Many churches are still trying to figure this one out.
- Digital giving will become a standard way of collecting gifts. Your church now should be receiving 50% or more of your gifts digitally. This number must continue to grow in the future.
- Someone in your church must help the older “digitally challenged” (Baby Boomers) who are the highest givers in your church to set up online. This is a challenge because this generation is the least comfortable and has the highest amount of rejection of technology.
- Your message must meet people where they are. Most people today are on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. You want people on your website, but also you want them to take the live-stream, and distribute it to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and any other platform that is applicable to your audience.
- The coronavirus’ negative impact to some churches may have a long-lasting effect. Church leaders must begin to think differently if revenues are down significantly.
- When returning to church, fewer people will want to handle cash and the offering plates or buckets. This should not be a problem because today very few people are carrying cash.
- Churches will need to be 7 days a week churches, not just preach on Sunday and Bible study during the week. This will no longer work because everybody will be competing and streaming for new members.
- Hundreds of Christians are spontaneously embarked on church shopping voyages for the best online service they can find. In a quick and liberating fashion, some who attended smaller churches for years, will abandon their local congregations to find the church which could best quench their consumer need.
- The death rate of churches will get worse.
My goal in writing this article to serve Pastors and church leaders is to help them be aware and be prepared for what may be coming over the next months and years. God is in control, but as church leaders you must be prepared for change with a plan of action to confront external realities, threats, and temptations facing those in your congregation. My predictions may be right or wrong. In truth, the only thing that matters is that we continue to be faithful ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Aaron J. Shingler | Senior Vice President, Church Financial Consultant
Aaron has over thirty-five years of commercial and investment banking experience, bringing financial resources to churches and businesses on a nation-wide basis. He is a recognized expert in originating and underwriting Church Bond financing and Commercial bank loans to churches. Over the last 20 years, he has helped secure over $100,000,000 in capital for churches.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2015, he was presented with the Honorary Doctor of Financial Pedagogy by the Spirit of Faith Empowerment Ministries & Bible College. Aaron has been recognized for his expertise in finance and business development in the “Wall Street Journal”, “USA Today”, “Black Enterprise”, “Inc. Magazine”, “Baltimore Sun”, Washington Post, “Florida Times-Union” and others.