Online viewership has increased since the start of the pandemic for many churches. However, a new Barna report states that "50 percent of Millennials said they had not attended church in the past four weeks. Thirty-five percent of Gen Xers and 26 percent of Boomers said the same." How many people have opted out of the virtual church experience?
Most of us are visiting 4-5 services each Sunday as our Facebook feed fills with worship services and sermons from our favorite preachers around the world. Normally, we are exhausted after waking up to make the trek to church with families in tow. We're consuming more on-demand church content than ever before without the Sunday morning choreography of "going" to church.
Online engagement is great! However, keeping believers engaged in congregational life requires an intentional strategy. Churches need a strategy to ensure we create a community in a virtual context.
In a small church, both volunteers and creativity are limited and many have chosen to focus on the online service experience only. However, as the pandemic continues, churches regardless of size must revive fellowship, community, and tangible experiences of worship. Christianity, unlike some religions, is not structured as an individualistic faith. We do not gauge our devotion to Christ through our personal prayers and rituals alone. Congregational life is paramount to embracing the Spirit, encouraging the brethren, etc.
I suggest that we must not ignore the data of the Barna report. The numbers do not lie. Rather, we must begin to creatively engage with the data, and through prayer, find opportunities for ingenuity in ministry. Our methods are challenged although our mission remains the same. We must answer for our individual communities this important question, “How do we create a community without our walls?”
We may find that those who are drifting away from worship services may be found again through another mode of ministry. Let’s not be weary in well-doing!