Last week, a survey was sent to all of the churches and church pastors in the Conference with questions about your virtual worship services, finances, and re-opening plans. Thank you so much to the 95 churches (out of 155) that responded! This information is helpful to conference staff as we continue to provide resources and training to support the missions of your churches.
We used the information in the surveys to update the list of churches worshipping online this fall. That link is below. We hope that information is being used by:
- Churches that are not equipped to provide online services
- People who don’t feel comfortable worshipping with their congregations in person
- Pastors who need a Sunday supply and can find other congregations that are meeting online at the same time as their church
The information from the surveys was also helpful to Rev. Cean James, our Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development, when he led a workshop this weekend on holding virtual and in-person worship at the same time. If you missed that workshop, you can find a link to a video of the training later in this email.
Several churches asked for more worship resources: music for live-streaming, worship components, and services from the Conference staff. In response to that, we have created a Google Drive for churches and pastors to share worship components. If you or your congregation has recorded a service, sermon, musical selection, children’s sermon, order for communion, or liturgy that you would like to allow others to use, please upload that video to the Google Drive. If your congregation is in need of any of those resources, they’re there for you to download. Please note: each congregation needs to take responsibility for its own copyright requirements. Visit the Google Drive (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/18wnxvyEEbyEaVhx0Tonj0DU_j2TbZ_by?usp=sharing) and read the document “PLEASE READ: Requirements” for more information.
One of the videos that you’ll find on the Google Drive is a service recorded this week by Conference Minister Rev. Bill Worley and Associate Conference Minister Rev. Cean James. Churches are encouraged to use this service in the next few weeks to give your pastors a much-needed break.
Finally, the results from the survey may also be helpful to your church’s leadership to see what other congregations are doing at this point. Below are some of the result highlights.
- 87.5% of churches reported holding some sort of virtual services at this time
- 64.2% of churches are sharing their services on multiple platforms
- Top platforms include:
- Facebook — 64.3%
- YouTube — 54.8%
- Zoom — 33.3%
- Email — 28.6%
- 33.3% of churches reported similar online attendance to in-person services
- 47.6% said attendance is higher than average when sharing online
- 19.1% said attendance is lower than average
- 44.8% of churches are not having in-person worship at all at this time
- 27.1% are meeting inside the church
- 13.5% are holding outdoor worship
- The remaining churches reported some combination of indoor, outdoor, and/or online services
- Of the churches that have resumed meeting:
- 16 returned to in-person worship in June
- 20 resumed in July
- 8 resumed in August
- 1 never stopped worshipping for the pandemic
- Of the churches that have not resumed yet:
- 14 expect to meet in person in September
- 11 in October
- 4 in November
- 4 do not expect to meet in person until 2021
- 2 plan to wait for an effective vaccine to be widely available
- 1 is waiting for less than 10 cases per day in their county
- 1 is waiting until two weeks after the state lifts restrictions for 100-person indoor gatherings
- The remaining responses were churches that are unsure or are assessing monthly at consistory/council meetings.
- In response to “How have your church’s contributions and offerings during COVID compared to recent years:
- 52.1% responded that giving has stayed about the same
- 25% reported giving has decreased
- 14.6% reported an increased giving
- Others were unsure
- 58.3% of responding churches received a PPP loan
- 2.1% received other financial assistance (Cornerstone Fund, Small Business Loan, etc.)
- 17.7% of churches do not expect to reach their pledged OCWM contribution to PSEC this year.