A new survey says that most churches have not returned to in-person services, and many are uncertain about the future of worship gatherings.
The survey is from the Wheaton Billy Graham Center’s Send Institute, Exponential, and the Association of Related Churches. Some 767 responses were recorded for the study.
In a key finding, the survey showed that most churches have the potential to meet for in-person services, but 67 percent have not.
“Some church leaders explain that while they are allowed to gather in some capacity, the health and safety of their congregation and community outweigh their ability and desire to gather,” the study said. “Others have shared that restrictions on congregational singing, hesitation from ministry volunteers, and the inability to linger before and after services for conversations, greatly reduce the value of their in-person gatherings.
About 33 percent of pastors reported their churches have returned to in-person gatherings, but only about half of the congregation is attending.
As expected, 80 percent of large churches, those who boasted an attendance greater than 1,000 before the nationwide quarantines, reported they are not meeting.
In another key finding, half of churches will most likely return to in-person gathering this month, but about a third said they aren’t sure.
The survey said that one pastor said that “it does not make sense to church leadership to hold worship services for only a small percentage of their congregation while risking the chance of increasing the number of coronavirus cases in their community. Their plan is to continue month by month and to continue to improve their virtual engagement, with possibly some small group meetings.”
The report concluded that “church leaders across the nation are cautiously planning their return to in-person worship gatherings this summer. However, the return to in-person gatherings is not as simple as turning on a light switch. Many precautionary measures are being put into place to ensure health and safety for church members and the community at large.”
In other findings, the survey said pastors felt that:
- Church members are divided on whether to return to in-person gatherings.
- Many see state and local leadership as a significant influence on when to return to in-person gatherings.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.