AFTER THE CRISIS: With Shutdowns Ending, Will People Be Going Back To Church?

Written by Wes Walker on July 1, 2021

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That infamous Chinese cough was supposedly an existential threat that should have had us all shaking in our boots. But what if an even more insidious threat lurked elsewhere?

Was there a subtle attack against our churches, tucked away in the pandemic response?

If there’s one skill that the authoritarian left has honed over the last 100 years or so, it has been new and creative ways to force people to change in ways they would not willingly change.

For example, people in 1980 might have believed that they would live to see a black President, but they could never have imagined that a party would push all its chips in for Marxist principles, or that we would have a month-long celebration of same-sex marriage and a former gold-medal Decathlete who sits down to pee.

What was once transgressive became normal, and then what was normal became obligatory. Just ask the guy who wouldn’t ‘bake the damned cake’.

As we look back over the Plague Year, we saw a pattern in the choices that were made, and there seems to have been a special opposition to religious expression. We’ve seen pastors in Canada carried off to jail, while Christians and Jews in blue states have had to fight in court to have their basic Constitutional religious rights upheld. Even some here were arrested.

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We were told that the ‘new normal’ is something we’d just have to accept. Supposedly, it would not have any negative consequences. That is not how it played out in real life.

“A profile of these groups of online churchgoers reveals a strong generational pattern. When asked if they had attended church within the past four weeks, exactly half of practicing Christian Millennials (50%) say they have not. The percentages of Gen X and Boomers who have stopped attending online services (35% Gen X, 26% Boomers) are lower than among their younger counterparts, but still show the impact of COVID-19 precautions and regulations on what used to be a regular practice.”

Back in March, when my area was issued a “shelter in place” order, my church, like many others, scrambled to stream church services. The first few weeks, the novelty of what they called “Home Church” was pretty cool. Though I’ve continued to faithfully “tune in” to church, the online format has grown old. I deeply miss gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ, worshiping together, sharing conversations. I have also seen the negative fallout caused by the lack of communication and connection among church members during this season. — Boundless

Many Churches just accepted the argument that shutting down served the ‘greater good’… without asking the critical question about whose definitions of ‘greater good’ they were serving.

As the pandemic recedes in the United States and in-person services resume, worries of a deepening slide in attendance are universal.

Some houses of worship won’t make it.

Smaller ones with older congregations that struggled to adapt during the pandemic are in the greatest danger, said the Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, a lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School who is co-pastor of a church in Boston.

…The remaining congregants realized they couldn’t continue to maintain the structur, and decided to fold the tent, Foster said.

“We can’t entirely blame everything on COVID,” he said. “But that was just the final blow. Some people have not been back at all.” —AP

This sad story is hardly unique.

In the United States, where for decades a dwindling share of the population has identified as being religious, about three-quarters of Americans who attended religious services in person at least monthly before the pandemic now say they are likely to do so again in the next few weeks, according to a recent AP-NORC poll. That’s up slightly from the about two-thirds who said in May 2020 that they would if allowed to do so. But 7% said they definitely won’t be attending.

Those findings are in line with a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. residents last summer that found that 92% of people who regularly attend religious services expected to continue at the same or higher rate, with 7% saying they will attend in-person services less often.

…Congregations that kept a connection with their members and relied less for donations on physical presence — for instance, the passing of the donation plate — stand a better chance of emerging unscathed, White-Hammond said. —AP

There was a time when Churches knew intuitively that membership in a church is NOT the same as watching one on TV. How people who knew that could have possibly imagined that a religion that by nature is founded on being both ‘incarnational’ and ‘relational’ — as evidenced in the various ways that His Chuch commemorates the giving of His Body and His Blood in celebrating Communion — could remain unchanged after a year or more of ‘remote attendance is nothing less than astonishing.

It only takes 30 days, they say, for people to start a new habit.

Government Authorities have had more than a year of conditioning our culture in the belief that Liquor stores and Walmarts are ‘essential’, but Sunday Morning worship is not. Did we really think that would have no effect on our culture?

With the unmasked hostility some of these secular activists (elected and otherwise) hold toward Christianity, did we really think that at least some of those calling Church attendance ‘non-essential’ was a coincidence?

Or could that have played a role in both starving the Churches of critical resources to remain solvent, as well as a clever and subtle way of breaking up the bonds that keep them together… for the ‘greater good’, of course?

That’s a question our pastors and priests should consider as they look out at their churches and ask where it is that those familiar faces in those now-empty seats have wandered off to?