With vaccines readily available, restaurants, malls and even sporting events back to capacity, it appears we’re on the downside of this pandemic. However, churches are struggling with physical attendance.
“In person maybe about twenty five percent of what we were used to” said Rodney Payne, pastor of Bethlehem Star Baptist church.
Most churches anticipated last year’s COVID challenges, but not to this extreme.
“There were going to be a large percentage of people that were attracted to the online option,” Terry Bates, Pastor of Faith Church OKC said. “To be able to sit at home, not get out, and go into the elements, and just the convenience.”
That convenience battle is tough for churches, but pastors are up for the challenge.
“People were made to fellowship,” Pastor Michael McDaniel, of Northeast Missionary Baptist Church said. “I think that will be the driving impetus to get people back in church.”
“The truth is, we tend to think God is everything I need.” Pastor Darrell Stetler of Bible Methodist Church said. “But God who is everything we need; said we need each other and that’s what is going to bring us back together.”
“People will be driven back because they need that personal touch” McDaniel said.
That has been the missing element for most families during this pandemic.
The pastors all agree the one suffering the most during this time are the kids. Most adults get teaching and some connection from online church services; however, kids are missing that positive interaction and encouragement.
The pastor said they appreciate the online church service; however, it simply can’t replace the live experience.
“I don’t care how loud your sound system is. I don’t care what you do at home. You cannot experience worship as we are doing it,” said Payne.
Surprisingly, all the pastors said financially the churches are doing well. Some even better than they were pre-pandemic.
So, there’s no panic button for these pastors. They all believe it is just a matter of time before they are back to capacity and celebrating.