Recently the Center for Church Renewal and Vibrant Congregations created a survey with Calvin University’s Center for Social Research to determine how churches are doing during the Covid-19 crisis. The survey was sent to the CCR’s network, Classis Holland (CRC) and Classis South East (CRC). The survey results provide some interesting discoveries.
Here are 7 discoveries from the Covid-19 church survey:
Discovery #1: CHURCHES AND LEADERS ARE PROVING TO BE INCREDIBLY FAITHFUL AND FAITH-FILLED
One pastor’s comment says it all, “We’re not giving up on ministering in the Name of Jesus.” In every way possible churches are providing pastoral care, care for the needy and soul care during this crisis. Elders, deacons and staff are doing amazing work. Half said their congregants are flourishing spiritual.
Discovery #2: CHURCHES ARE DEMONSTRATING AMAZING RESILIENCE
When asked to place themselves on a scale of 1-10 from barely hanging to living fully into mission the average was “6.5”. One pastor said, “Many from whom I’ve heard are praying hard, looking for ways to help their neighbors and fellow congregants.” Asked if this is detrimental to their ministry’s future only one said “yes.” 97% said they have enough financial resources to continue into the near future.
Discovery #3: PASTORS AND CONGREGATIONS ARE FIGURING OUT TECHNOLOGY
It’s been a steep learning curve to figure out on-line social media platforms. Surprisingly, the vast majority are getting it done. 95% say they’re figuring out technology for communication, worship and pastoral care. The hiccup is on-line giving. About 1 in 4 are struggling to get an on-line giving portal set up.
Discovery #4: PASTORAL CARE IS GOOD BUT COULD BE TESTED
100% of respondents said that they have a plan to pastorally care for their members. The capacity for pastoral care will be tested, however, by the depth of the challenge. Only 39% have a plan to care for the hospitalize. Just 31% have a plan for funerals. 1/3 lack a plan if members are financially in trouble.
Discovery #5: CHALLENGES LOOM ON THE HORIZON
65% of respondents indicated few in their congregation are facing severe challenges and most of the rest said they lack this information. That could change in weeks to come. Additionally, 44% of reporting churches are receiving 50% or less of weekly offerings. Mostly, pastors suggested that social distancing is stressing community life. Everyone longs to be together again.
Discovery #6: MISSIONAL ENGAGEMENT IS A MIXED BAG
Just 8% of churches say their primary focus is “connecting with the needs of the community.” Having said that, half of respondents say they do have a plan in place to address financial and spiritual needs of their community and 61% say they’ve connected with community agencies to offer assistance. Throughout the survey there are many testimonies of unique ways churches are serving neighbors.
Discovery #7: THERE IS A SENSE THAT THIS MAY CHANGE LIFE AND MINISTRY FOREVER
Many respondents say they’re considering how this will open fresh ways to join God on mission. One pastor wrote: “We want to keep our mission and ministry strong. How can the church do its work of reaching out with the Good News of Jesus—especially in times like these in which people may be more receptive to the message of Jesus.” There is a sense that life and ministry are changing.
If you’d like to gain a better picture of ministry in your own classis during Covid-19, this survey is available for your use (it takes just 5-10 minutes). Please contact Larry Doornbos, executive director of Vibrant Congregations, at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.