Home Christian News Amid COVID-19, Most Churches Provide Hybrid Worship, Half Stopped Picnics

Amid COVID-19, Most Churches Provide Hybrid Worship, Half Stopped Picnics

A New Study Shows That ‘the Pandemic Has Had a Profound Impact Across the Religious Spectrum, and That Some Churches Are Faring Better Than Others,’ Said Scholar Scott Thumma.

The majority of clergy (62%) encouraged church members to get vaccinated, but that stance varied significantly depending on their denominational affiliation.

“Among clergy from historically African American denominations 100% encouraged vaccinations, while 77% of Mainline Protestant clergy, 49% of Catholic/Orthodox clergy and 41% of Evangelical Protestant clergy publicly encouraged their attendees to get vaccinated,” the study stated. “Within majority Latino churches from various denominations, 65% of their clergy encouraged the vaccine.”

Eight percent of congregations have served as vaccine or test sites, and most of those were larger churches.

Researchers found that the pandemic is not affecting churches’ attendance equally. Since 2019, 35% of churches saw a decline of 25% or more. But 28% of congregations said they grew in the past two years, with 18% reporting growth of 25% or more.

“Congregational Decline But Also Growth” Graphic courtesy of HIRR

The mode of delivery of worship services was a major factor in whether median attendance increased or fell. For example, the 15% of churches that met solely in person saw the steepest decline in attendance — 15.7%. The 5% of congregations that offered only online worship had a decline of 7.3%.

But the 80% of congregations offering hybrid worship experienced an overall growth of 4.5%.

“These congregations tended to be larger with younger clergy, reporting moderate willingness to change, and expressing some struggles to adapt,” the study stated. “They also reported the most infections of Covid-19 of staff and members, as well as the most congregational deaths. These congregations represent 60% of Catholic/Orthodox congregations, 62% of Mainline, and 90% of all Evangelical congregations.”

"Worship Mode Makes A Difference" Graphic courtesy of HIRR

“Worship Mode Makes A Difference” Graphic courtesy of HIRR