In late July, LifeWay Research conducted an online survey of 443 Protestant pastors to find out how churches in the U.S. are reopening. Most churches stopped gathering in person this April as COVID spread, but reopening has been a struggle between varying restrictions and new spikes. It’s not been an easy path, but here are how churches are making it work:
- By the first weekend in June, a majority (55%) were gathering. In July, more than 7 in 10 have met physically. Still, 21% of Protestant pastors say they have not met in person the past three months.
- Around 1 in 5 churches (21%) offered drive-in services where attendees participated from their vehicles at some point during the pandemic.
- For those churches choosing to meet physically indoors, 99% point to some type of health and safety precaution they are taking.
28% of pastors say someone in their church has been diagnosed with COVID-19 which is up from 5% of pastors in March. 1 of 20 Protestant pastors have dealt with an attendee dying from the coronavirus.
Pastors still are hesitant to begin small group Bible studies or children and youth ministry. 42% of pastors say they have not made a decision yet.
A major impact is volunteers. “Maintaining social distance and necessary sanitation is very difficult with younger ages,” said McConnell, a LifeWay Researcher. “To complicate things further, some of the volunteers who normally work with kids and students are in higher risk groups who are not ready to return any time soon.”
On a positive note, 81% say attendees have helped each other with tangible needs and 60% say attendees have met needs in the community!
These pastors have never been in a pandemic before. This is new territory not just for health, but politically, financially, and socially. They’ve got a tough job managing all these opinions and restrictions, but we can continue to pray for them as they lead us the best they can!
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