Congregations have always struggled when it comes to tweaking their worship service. Worship committees may make recommendation to councils, but then council needs to seek clarification and it’s not unheard of to have a few months go by before change can occur!
COVID-19 certainly threw that process for a loop. Congregations suddenly had to deal with government regulations that closed church doors to physical gatherings. Yet, in a period of only 2-3 weeks, many congregations had figured out how to live-stream or record their services and share those online with their congregations.
As if that accomplishment wasn’t herculean enough, when churches received word that they could be open for in person worship (with restrictions), many made a second pivot to live stream their services and allow in person worship.
Along the way, some pastors discovered that their camera angle and filming strategy needed to be adjusted; some realized that it would be easiest to record first and conduct a separate in person event later. Some churches even engaged in parking lot worship to avoid many of the concerns about in person worship.
Through all these pivots and challenges, churches have reached out to the ministries of the CRCNA. We’ve been happy to interact by phone, email or on The Network (crcna.org/Network). We’ve learned from each other and, together, created a better plan to engage with our communities. We don’t have this figured out, but together we are sharing some amazing ideas on how to re engage with our congregational members.
Churches have organized birthday parade drive bys; some have mailed the content of their in-church mailbox to individual homes; others have created zoom coffee conversations, engaged in email-based guessing games, dropped puzzles and board games off at each other’s houses . . . the list goes on.
Yet we know that things are far from “normal.” Earlier this year, the research group Barna found that one third of regular church attenders hadn’t attended in person church or streamed an online service. The demographics of this missing group tended to skew younger. I know of a few CRC congregations that are noticing a similar trend. While some attendees remain faithful, others have fallen out of the habit of weekly worship. We wonder if they will return.
This Thanksgiving season, I encourage us all to find opportunities to reach out to each other. Even if we can’t meet physically, let’s call, email, drop off a care package or check in on social media. As a church who loves its members and is eager to see them remain tightly connected to their family of faith, we owe it to each other to reach out and connect.
This article was made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada.