“We learned and corporately decided as a church that we would never cancel services again or impose restrictions of any kind at the request or threat of the government,” one pastor told ChurchLeaders.com. “That decision would be solely our choice and be something we sensed was in obedience to the Word of God and Spirit of God.” Like other church leaders, he said, “We also learned that nothing can replace the in-person gathering of the church. Digital ministry is a must, but will never be a replacement. You can watch a fire online, but it will not warm you up.”
Church members having different views on issues like lockdown restrictions doesn’t make them bad people, another pastor explained. Lockdowns caused people’s lives to be disrupted, which resulted in unhealthy isolation. This pastor said he saw a “growing distrust” in government officials because of ever-changing messages and reports. “Online church is horrible! It is acceptable if that is the only thing you have, but little more good than that,” he said.
One pastor lamented how hard it was to find good information about the pandemic response. “Politicized topics leave everyone feeling awful,” he said, “and the inertia of being shut down was almost worse than the shut-down itself.
“Pre-COVID, I was very resistant to developing a significant online presence for our church,” another pastor said. Because of COVID, “We learned to livestream our services and ramp up our online and social media communication.” This pastor said the effort showed his church the “new front door” for new families joining the church.
“We can stay open, be cautious, and for those uncomfortable with meeting, they can view from home without feeling judged,” said one pastor, who worried that people would feel forced to come in person if they had not offered an online option. He advised responding to your local situation, not the world around you. What’s happening in Canada or California doesn’t mean it is happening in your state or county.
“Connection and community are more important than ever,” one discipleship leader said. “Simple is better. Recreate and adjust where needed.”
Another leader said church leadership wanted “everyone to feel like they were there [live at the gathering],” so they spent a lot of money updating their livestream, “trying to make people feel like they were in the room.” He added that he’s not sure that was the best use of the church’s money.
A great reminder that reiterates how much church leadership needs our prayers came from one leader. “No matter what we do,” he said, “we must please God because it is impossible to please man.”