Announcement

Collapse

Christianity 201 Guidelines

orthodox Christians only.

Discussion on matters of general mainstream evangelical Christian theology that do not fit within Theology 201. Have some spiritual gifts ceased today? Is the KJV the only viable translation for the church today? In what sense are the books of the bible inspired and what are those books? Church government? Modern day prophets and apostles?

This forum is primarily for Christians to discuss matters of Christian doctrine, and is not the area for debate between atheists (or those opposing orthodox Christianity) and Christians. Inquiring atheists (or sincere seekers/doubters/unorthodox) seeking only Christian participation and having demonstrated a manner that does not seek to undermine the orthodox Christian faith of others are also welcome, but must seek Moderator permission first. When defining “Christian” or "orthodox" for purposes of this section, we mean persons holding to the core essentials of the historic Christian faith such as the Trinity, the Creatorship of God, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the atonement, the future bodily return of Christ, the future bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, and the final judgment. Persons not holding to these core doctrines are welcome to participate in the Comparative Religions section without restriction, in Theology 201 as regards to the nature of God and salvation with limited restrictions, and in Christology for issues surrounding the person of Christ and the Trinity. Atheists are welcome to discuss and debate these issues in the Apologetics 301 forum without such restrictions.

Additionally and rarely, there may be some topics or lines of discussion that within the Moderator's discretion fall so outside the bounds of mainstream orthodox doctrine (in general Christian circles or in the TheologyWeb community) or that deny certain core values that are the Christian convictions of forum leadership that may be more appropriately placed within Unorthodox Theology 201. NO personal offense should be taken by such discretionary decision for none is intended. While inerrancy is NOT considered a requirement for posting in this section, a general respect for the Bible text and a respect for the inerrantist position of others is requested.

The Tweb rules apply here like they do everywhere at Tweb, if you haven't read them, now would be a good time.

Forum Rules: Here
See more
See less

The Church and Covid

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Church and Covid

    An interesting article in CT regarding Church and covid and what affect the latter had on the former

    Source: Christians Are Going Back to Church—But Maybe Not the Same One


    Amid all the moves and changes of the past two years, many congregations saw turnover accelerate.

    Houston Northwest Church suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. By the time its flooded facilities were finally rebuilt a couple years ago, the congregation was only back at full capacity for six weeks before services were shut down by the pandemic.

    As the church endured one setback after another, senior pastor Steve Bezner has seen the flock ebb and flow.

    “About a third of our congregation worshiping in person are new faces,” he said.

    His church currently draws 1,600 attendees each week, including several hundred viewing online—not far from its pre-pandemic weekly average of 1,700. Bezner marvels at the number of members who left during the pandemic and the number of new people who have showed up to take their place.

    “It will make you believe in the preservation of the Holy Spirit,” the Houston pastor said.

    Member turnover is as common to the life cycle of a church as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But the pandemic has accelerated people’s comings and goings and has required new strategies to welcome and assimilate new members into the church community. These tasks have been complicated by evolving COVID-19 precautions and the challenge of identifying who still belongs to the church, when many continue to worship online.

    “Not gathering stirred up these questions,” said Steve Smith, executive pastor of Highpoint Church in Naperville, Illinois. “The gospel hasn’t changed, and we will always be Bible-centric, but how we engage people is changing.”

    COVID-19 has propelled people toward life change of all kinds over the past two years, including career shifts, new relationships, and relocation. Some changes have been out of necessity and some out of new priorities; Pew found three-quarters of have seen some positive impact from the pandemic.

    This has played out with church choices as well. For those who were already struggling with their church, the pandemic served as a catalyst to begin exploring other congregations. One Atlanta churchgoer said the pandemic pushed her toward change after navigating difficult social dynamics within her young adult group.

    “I decided to start fresh somewhere else,” said Elisa Hoover, 27. “It was easier to visit other churches during the pandemic, and my absence was less noted in my church’s tight-knit community.”

    For many people, the sustained isolation of the pandemic heightened their desire for connection and spiritual community.

    Many new attendees to Houston Northwest Church came from a large apartment complex across the street that houses mostly single adults. “They felt the psychological pressure of loneliness and wanted to check it out,” Bezner said. “They wanted to discover who God is.”

    This desire for connection and spiritual grounding transcended demographics, affecting everyone from singles living alone to parents with young children to parishioners who lived too far from their church to be deeply engaged.

    When the pandemic hit in 2020, Dylan Parker and his wife realized they lived too far from their Arkansas church to be as invested as they would like.

    “Until the pandemic slowed us down, we didn’t realize the toll it took on us to live life across multiple cities,” he said. They began looking for a church closer to home, but soon learned that he was accepted into a PhD program at Fuller Theological Seminary and would be moving to California. Parker and his wife now live within walking distance of their church and many of its members.

    “We already feel like we have closer and stronger community here than in Arkansas,” said Parker.

    The father of two also values his new church’s approach to handling challenging issues that emerged during the pandemic, including social justice. Though he says he would not have changed churches for this reason alone, he acknowledges his California church is a better fit.

    “My previous church was not allowing space to have conversations I wanted to have on social justice,” he said. “I have reached a place in my life where I needed space to answer those questions.”

    Navigating a challenging landscape

    It is impossible to analyze the topic of church switching during the pandemic without acknowledging the backdrop of national polarization on issues ranging from masking and vaccination to racial tension to politics. Frequently, pastors have felt ill-equipped to address these issues in ways that satisfy members representing a wide spectrum of viewpoints.

    Bezner describes the turbulence of the last two years as “compounded national trauma that has caused decision fatigue in pastors.”

    Controversial decisions, made under heightened scrutiny, could be what prompts certain attendees to reevaluate church fit.

    “It used to be a quieter thing, but now groups leave together and it’s louder than it used to be,” said Smith at Highpoint in Illinois.

    Churches are often losing the “back row,” with those who were highly involved becoming even more involved during the course of the pandemic, those who were moderately involved holding steady, and many of the less engaged attendees falling away.

    “We’re seeing that the people who came 8 or 12 times a year have stopped attending,” said Smith. “Their spiritual muscle atrophied.”

    Across Highpoint’s seven locations, the nondenominational church saw few of these people re-engage despite a robust communication campaign led by church leaders and volunteers.

    Offering virtual services is helpful during the pandemic, but makes it harder to account for members. The mix of people switching churches and worshiping online has created mystery around the true number of members who have exited church permanently.

    Nearly all churches had reopened by last summer, with only three quarters of once-regular attendees back in the pews, Lifeway Research found.

    Building deeper community

    “Anonymity is a big part of the American church landscape,” said Len Tang, director of the Church Planting Initiative at Fuller Theological Seminary. “But in smaller churches, you can’t be anonymous.”

    In some ways, small churches and church plants have been better positioned to retain members during the pandemic. Tang’s congregation, Missio Church in Pasadena, California, did not see much church switching during the pandemic.

    “People are usually loyal to the vision of a church plant and less likely to switch churches,” he said. Lifeway also found that smaller churches rebounded more quickly than large ones.

    “Most small churches are still not back to pre-pandemic levels, but far more of them are reaching this point than larger churches,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “It’s possible small churches are aided by perceived safety of a naturally smaller gathering, differences in technology options for gathering online, or the strength of relational connections.”

    Churches big and small focused on small-group discipleship when in-person services were paused.

    “Churches that understood discipleship at their core could continue that mission,” said Tang.

    At Highpoint, pastors could no longer use Sunday attendance as a measure of church discipleship, so they adjusted their approach to leadership training. Instead of simply sharing discipleship methods, they focused on teaching leaders why discipleship is essential and how to engage people meaningfully.

    “We are trying to help them understand, ‘How do you pull out of people their deeper struggles and longings as a part of spiritual formation?’” Smith said.

    Down in Houston, Bezner’s church started hosting vision dinners in order to accommodate more people than their traditional new member classes.

    Matt and Dara Osborn of Spring, Texas, recently attended one of these vision dinners to learn more about the church’s past and its hoped-for future.

    “Some churches are focused on rebuilding and others are sprinting forward,” said Matt Osborn. “Houston Northwest Church is sprinting forward. In this new era, reopening is like starting over.”

    Osborn believes this time of transition during the pandemic could be preparing the church for a new phase of growth ahead.He said, “Maybe God is placing people where they need to be for his kingdom to grow in post-pandemic times.”


    Source

    © Copyright Original Source



    So, has the pandemic wrought any major changes in your church? Has it effected membership? Has it led to anyone switching which church they attend or even their denomination?

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

  • #2
    We actually gained members from Churches that had "shut down". About 6 families started attending here, with 3 of them being up front and letting me know they would be returning to their own churches when they reopened. The other 3 were actually very unhappy with their church's decision to shut down, and ended up staying here.

    Currently, we're having "name tag month" (that may extend into several months because it's actually a positive) because some of our people who had stayed home during Covid are coming back, and the new people who joined during Covid think that those people are "the new people". So, we are all wearing name tags (nice plastic clip on kind like you'd see at a convention) and I'm seeing WAY more people shaking hands and greeting one another after church.

    Financially, we took a hit, but that's coming back --- congregational size --- we really thought, because it was supposed to be cold and windy this past Sunday morning, that attendance would be down, but even with a number of our own people out, we had a larger than average attendance.
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
      We actually gained members from Churches that had "shut down". About 6 families started attending here, with 3 of them being up front and letting me know they would be returning to their own churches when they reopened. The other 3 were actually very unhappy with their church's decision to shut down, and ended up staying here.

      Currently, we're having "name tag month" (that may extend into several months because it's actually a positive) because some of our people who had stayed home during Covid are coming back, and the new people who joined during Covid think that those people are "the new people". So, we are all wearing name tags (nice plastic clip on kind like you'd see at a convention) and I'm seeing WAY more people shaking hands and greeting one another after church.

      Financially, we took a hit, but that's coming back --- congregational size --- we really thought, because it was supposed to be cold and windy this past Sunday morning, that attendance would be down, but even with a number of our own people out, we had a larger than average attendance.
      That happened here as well, and in other churches in the States that were defying the shutdown orders. I think it weeded out a lot of churches, and people, that weren’t really interested in teaching God's word faithfully. Not necessarily in regards to the shut down, but more generally.


      Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mossrose View Post

        That happened here as well, and in other churches in the States that were defying the shutdown orders. I think it weeded out a lot of churches, and people, that weren’t really interested in teaching God's word faithfully. Not necessarily in regards to the shut down, but more generally.
        Now that you mention it, the families that came to us during that period are solid, dependable and involved!
        The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

        Comment


        • #5
          Last I heard, a church down the road ifrom me (actually a conservative "Bible church") had limited visitors to preregistrants. That's just gross. I can only imagine somebody trying to attend their first church service ever, and being turned away.
          Last edited by KingsGambit; 01-19-2022, 01:25 PM.
          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
            Last I heard, a church down the road ifrom me (actually a conservative "Bible church") had limited visitors to preregistrants. That's just gross. I can only imagine somebody trying to attend their first church service ever, and being turned away.
            Yes, one of the churches from which we received members had a "sign up for one of the three services we will offer" (so they could split the crowd into thirds for more room). This was one of the reasons one of the families left -- they had to SIGN UP to go to Church!
            The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
              Last I heard, a church down the road ifrom me (actually a conservative "Bible church") had limited visitors to preregistrants. That's just gross. I can only imagine somebody trying to attend their first church service ever, and being turned away.
              There has to be at least a dozen better ways to have handled that.

              I'm always still in trouble again

              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

              Comment


              • #8
                So, has the pandemic wrought any major changes in your church? Has it effected membership? Has it led to anyone switching which church they attend or even their denomination?
                We've had more people join our church since the pandemic than in my previous 10 years there - and that's with a big chunk of time where we had to limit attendance due to state social distancing rules (and another significant chunk of time when we were limited to 5 attendees, including the priest ).
                Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                sigpic
                I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                  So, has the pandemic wrought any major changes in your church? Has it effected membership? Has it led to anyone switching which church they attend or even their denomination?
                  It's been a mixed bag for us. I'd say that about a third of our congregation has doubled down on church life -- they're more involved than they were before. There are a lot of new faces, but there are also a lot of people that have sort of just disappeared. Service attendance numbers are now about what they were before the pandemic. We have chosen to delay plans to build a new sanctuary facility because of broader economic/building supply issues. In the mean time, we're buying trailer-style classroom buildings to set up on campus and about to start remodeling our main building. The goal is to great more space for small groups, as we are quite simply running out of space for all of our groups to meet.
                  "If you believe, take the first step, it leads to Jesus Christ. If you don't believe, take the first step all the same, for you are bidden to take it. No one wants to know about your faith or unbelief, your orders are to perform the act of obedience on the spot. Then you will find yourself in the situation where faith becomes possible and where faith exists in the true sense of the word." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm churchless right now. My sister's former church (she moved out of that area last year) went during the summer of 2021 from a full-time to a part-time pastor. One of the local multi-campus churches around here closed two of their remote sites. I haven't heard of any churches closing.

                    From what I'm reading in the media, if you're experiencing growth, give extra praise and glory to God! You aren't the normal experience. I think myth post is closer to what is happening in a "typical" church.

                    My prediction: many smaller or financially over-extended churches will close up over the next two years. Denominations will probably be forcing congregations to merge. I think you'll see many independent churches just close-up. One end result may be an increase in church sizes as there are fewer places to go.

                    My wife and I would like to find a new church. She is so afraid of Covid that I can't see us looking until springtime.
                    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Given I live in a village of 200 year round residents and we've been meeting unrestricted since spring 2020, I'd say not much has change.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Interestingly, a few months ago I read something about how the pandemic has not brought about any increase in faith which generally occurs after such calamities, but Pew Research Center released a study last January that found while for the majority of people there was no increase, there still were increases in overall belief with the largest one in the U.S. where 30% say it has strengthened their faith.

                        I'm always still in trouble again

                        "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                        "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                        "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                          Interestingly, a few months ago I read something about how the pandemic has not brought about any increase in faith which generally occurs after such calamities, but Pew Research Center released a study last January that found while for the majority of people there was no increase, there still were increases in overall belief with the largest one in the U.S. where 30% say it has strengthened their faith.
                          This just sort of confirms the general trend of people having faith but not attending a church.
                          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                          Comment

                          Related Threads

                          Collapse

                          Topics Statistics Last Post
                          Started by KingsGambit, 05-24-2022, 07:27 PM
                          3 responses
                          29 views
                          2 likes
                          Last Post NorrinRadd  
                          Started by KingsGambit, 05-11-2022, 11:16 PM
                          12 responses
                          78 views
                          0 likes
                          Last Post Cow Poke  
                          Started by Thoughtful Monk, 04-27-2022, 01:50 PM
                          7 responses
                          55 views
                          0 likes
                          Last Post KingsGambit  
                          Started by Thoughtful Monk, 11-05-2021, 11:31 AM
                          36 responses
                          300 views
                          0 likes
                          Last Post Thoughtful Monk  
                          Working...
                          X