Churches plan to stay online after pandemic | Living
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced churches to become flexible in the way they conduct worship. For many, that meant moving services online.
Grace Fellowship Church is one of many churches in the area that began broadcasting their services live during the pandemic.
“In many ways, a church’s website has really become the gateway,” said Grace Fellowship Senior Pastor Matt Murphy. “This is where people go first.”
Murphy said Grace Fellowship planned to broadcast her services live before COVID-19 hit, but the suspension of in-person worship has sped up the process. Murphy said online services have actually helped the number of churches grow.
“The number of people we’ve been able to reach through our online services is actually more than what we were reaching before COVID,” Murphy said.
The Central Baptist Church has also moved its services online. Prior to the pandemic, Central Baptist had posted pre-recorded videos of their services, but decided to go live after they could no longer meet in person. Like Grace Fellowship, Central Baptist has seen an increase in its views on online services.
“We have had people connecting to our services from as far away as London, England, and it was a big surprise to us,” said Tommy Hood, senior pastor at Central Baptist Church. “We have people from various places across the country who have found our website and submitted prayer requests on our website from all over the place.
Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church had broadcast its services live before the pandemic, but began to take it more seriously after in-person worship was suspended.
“We moved very quickly to an online format just at the very beginning,” said Doug Grove-DeJarnett, associate pastor at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church. Grove-DeJarnett said the church’s online services allowed them to keep their attendance numbers roughly the same as they were before the pandemic.
All three churches have returned to in-person worship services, but said they plan to continue broadcasting live.
“We’ll continue to broadcast live and probably also do some pre-recorded devotion or some sort of brief worship service,” Grove-DeJarnett said.
For those who prefer to attend church in person, all three churches are taking pandemic precautions to keep their congregations healthy. Masks, social distancing and sanitation are standard practices in churches, which they hope will encourage people to return when they feel safe.
“I think we’ll see more people coming back,” Hood said. “In fact, we’ve already seen people we haven’t seen in a year who have started receiving in-person services again because they were able to get the vaccine.”
Whether online or in person, Murphy believes coming together is more important than ever.
“The majority of people feel disconnected or isolated to some extent, so I think bringing the church together online and also in person has been more important than ever for people to be able to connect with other believers. in Christ, ”Murphy said.