'We are going to survive': 5 ways the Church is innovating amid COVID-19

Scott Sauls attends the Q Conference on Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Scott Sauls attends the Q Conference on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | Q Conference

The move to digital 

Due to the pandemic, 2020 marked the digital era for the church, with churches leveraging technology to stream worship services, meet for prayer meetings and small groups, and tithe. In April, when asked about their current approach to corporate worship, 90% of pastors indicated their services were strictly online.

Exponential CEO Todd Wilson recently said that “what is church” is “going to become one of the key questions coming out of COVID,” as the digital way many are currently worshiping is “more of a missionary impulse for evangelism.”

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“Personally, I'm predicting it's going to become more of a debate, not less, as we move into the future,” he said. “It seems like the new normal is going to involve greater digital than pre-COVID. ... All of a sudden, churches are going to think about, ‘Why do I even have a physical building? Why do I need it? Why not be completely digital?’”

“At some point, we've got to go through that question of, ‘What, physically, is church?”

David Jeremiah, the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, pointed out that technology has allowed the Body of Christ to engage in discipleship, ministry, and community despite bans on in-person gatherings. 

He told CP his ministry reached an unprecedented number of people with the message of the Gospel amid the pandemic, indicating an “online revival” might be taking place.

“The church is alive and well and may be more responsive now than I can ever remember, except for the possible exception of 9/11,” he said. “What we've learned from all of this is God doesn't need a building for there to be a church.”

Still, for many Christians, the move to online services magnified the importance — and necessity — of in-person worship and community.

A July survey found that one-third of all practicing Christians hadn’t been watching either their own church online or another church's streaming worship services since the state lockdowns in response to the coronavirus.

“Everyone I know has some amount of ‘Zoom fatigue’ right now,” said Jan van Amerongen, executive pastor at Mountain Park Church, Phoenix, Arizona. “Zoom can’t replace human relationships … there are so many things that contribute to the feel of a room that you don’t get on video, especially when people are on mute. It can leave you emotionally weary.”

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