Regardless of your stance of Covid, we can all admit that the global Church has taken a hit. A few months ago, I created a survey on the state of the Church through Covid. I wanted to see how you thought the Church did through Covid. You can check out the stats from that survey at the link here. I am going to expound on the data a bit from what I see, but I would encourage you to look at the data and ask:
- How did the Church do? (Is the Church growing? Are the people growing?)
- What is the Church ? (Is attending church necessary? How often should we participate?)
- What does the Bible say about practising the 'one anothers?' (Did we?)
- Did I care for my fellow believer during this time?
Covid rules were hard and ever changing and 88% of respondents broke them in some shape or form. This varied from those who only broke a few rules to some people not following any of the Covid protocol. This resulted in 43% of respondents attending church illegally. These believers counted the cost and decided that gathering was worth the risk of fines, or even jail time.
Interesting facts about the state of the Church
Over 25% of churchgoers left their church for a variety of reasons, including: 1) some people moved 2) as churches moved more online 3) some people found churches that were open 4) others turned to the internet and found solid biblical teaching. Covid helped to expose some of the weak churches.
It is interesting that of the churches that grew exponentially during this time, 93% of them followed little to no Covid rules, while the ones that largely shrank or closed (85%) took a very strong Covid stance and followed most, if not all, the rules.
Areas of great concern
Over 25% of people were not reached out to personally by someone in leadership. This is an atrocity. Leaders can't lead if they don't have a grasp on what is going on in the lives of their congregation.
I think of when my hubby was preaching to his phone (beginning of Covid) and couldn't see how people were receiving the message. He couldn't look at the family who just lost their baby and offer them comforting words, or challenge people who were struggling in their faith.
One respondent shared, "We were lost sheep, just looking for a shepherd."
Another told me they were with the church for 40 years and did not get one call or card during Covid from their leadership.
Leaders need to know what is going on with their flock. They need a pulse on their people. They are biblically responsible for their congregation and will stand before God and be held accountable (Hebrews 13:17).
If you are in a leadership position and not reaching out to your people, you are failing as a leader. Leaders need to be present in the lives of their congregation. We are a family.
We, the churchgoers, also need to be looking around and taking notice of who is not there on Sunday or are at Bible study. Checking in on them, offering prayer, encouragement or a meal are simple and practical ways to demonstrate love and care for another.
This has been a very isolating time. So how about this week you call someone who wasn't at church and see if they need anything, or better yet call someone who hasn't been in church since Covid started and invite them to come home?
Because of this isolation and people not being in each other's life, 33% of people don't feel very connected to their church. This could be because some churches only allowed online services, and 26% of church 'watchers' did not tune into their own church's service, and less people were attending studies.
Some of the most heartbreaking results were the private messages people sent - their stories of loneliness, fear, depression, conflict. I have deleted them from the survey as they are very personal but remember that these are people not just stats.
What I gathered from this data
While the past is the past, what can we learn for the future? First, we need to sit under strong Bible teaching that will equip us to handle the next trial in our life, whether that is a personal crisis or a global one. We need solid theology for when the valleys come - and they are going to come. Only 54% of respondents felt that their church has equipped them to stand firm when trials come.
If your pastor is not faithfully handling God's word and teaching his flock, you need to seriously consider leaving that church and finding one that won't give you a wishy-washy gospel. We need strong teaching now, so we are ready to stand as the day of evil approaches.
Another thing that really stuck out to me is the immunocompromised. To be honest I had not thought much about my brothers and sisters who live lives that are restricted by disease.
Reading these surveys, I was really challenged to think about how we can involve them in our services and lives. This is more than just a Covid issue. These are real people who are homebound for some reason and the Church needs to remember them and help them.
In a way, Covid let us experience a bit of what they live every day and made me realize we need to find ways to include them. Thank you to those of you who are still part of a local church and are immunocompromised. Please reach out to your churches and help them to find ways to include you.
That way, people like me will be reminded that Jesus calls us to look after the widow and orphan, and the homebound. We need to be doing house calls, and provide other ministries to encourage you as you are part of the body.
I could spend weeks going through this data with you and breaking it apart. However, what we need to remember is that these are real people, and real stories and real pain. We need to know our Bibles, so that we can live out the truth daily, be there for our fellow Christian, and be a witness to the lost.