By Ryan Zepeda —
By the time your church re-opens following the Covid crisis, as many as one in five members won’t return, according to one analyst.
Church dynamics expert Thom Rainer told Baptist Press that the recent global pandemic is revealing the true colors of church members.
That means a church of 200 will be a church of 160 after restrictions lift.
Many churches went online when health officials banned large gatherings as hot points for contagion. They resorted to Zoom Bible studies and live-streaming their worship services on YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook and the like.
While online has the advantage of convenience (no drive to church, and if you want you can wear your jammies), it lacks the human touch of a handshake, hug or affirmation that is also an important part of the service.
While introverts probably liked avoiding the social demands, there are others who may also find it easier to drop out.
Rainer describes several categories of believers who will probably not return to church:
The declining-attendance Christian: If their faithfulness to regular services was already waning, Covid only hastened their demise. Now completely overtaken by inertia, they won’t likely return Sunday mornings unless some drastic jumpstart revives them.
The loosely-connected member: The person who didn’t want to get involved in a small group and develop lasting bonds of friendship and was only a Sunday apparition is likely to continue their stay-at-home habits.
Conversely, the person who has strong friendships developed in community will want to be with his or her friends and will show up as soon as the doors open.
The just-another-activity Christian: The soccer mom whose calendar is chock full of commitments might find the relief from Sunday morning obligations a welcome change.
The critical attendee: The person who was constantly carping, finding fault, and complaining will probably not be returning to services.
The socially accepted Christian: This is the person who only went to church because it was expected of him in society. It was a duty. It looked good. He was never really committed to God in the first place. Don’t expect his commitment to God to suddenly shift into high gear.
“Church leaders and church members, however, should not fret about these losses,” Rainer told Baptist Press. “Your local church has the opportunity to write its future on a blank slate, and these church members really had no plans to be a part of that future anyway.”
Many are trusting that God will send revival both during and immediately following the pandemic, and the sifting that took place during the crisis will ultimately lead to a dramatic increase for God’s kingdom, despite the dross that melts away.
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Ryan Zepeda studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.