The COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter the course of practically anyone, including churches. The way of life has changed with most advised to stay at home while businesses are not fully operating at normal capacity. The same holds for religious institutions who have felt the pinch of the coronavirus.
The coronavirus has impacted churches in different ways. Most know that religious gatherings are only starting to pick up and open only for a specific number of people. Beyond that, there is also the economic impact of lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 to consider. Some pastors have varying takes on that, largely depending on how severe the virus has impacted regions.
A new poll was released recently by Lifeway Research detailing how the coronavirus has impacted churches. Roughly half of Protestant pastors claim that the economic lockdown has rendered a negative impact on churches while a small fraction alleges that the impact has been very negative. The poll was released Tuesday with over 1,000 Protestant pastors taking the survey on the economic condition of congregations between Sept. 2 and Oct. 1.
The respondents to the survey were either senior pastors or a church's sole pastor. The survey had a sampling error that does not exceed plus or minus 3.4%.
Forty-three percent (43%) of the Protestant pastors claim that churches were "somewhat negatively" impacted by the current state of the economy while 35 percent feel there is no impact. 5 percent said the church was "very negatively" impacted.
Further, 15 percent of pastors said churches have either been "somewhat positively" impacted or "very positively" impacted by the economy. The donations or giving to churches have unsurprisingly declined so far.
With a lot of people losing jobs or seeing their businesses close down, this revelation hardly comes as a surprise. Hence, it is also not surprising to see that the negative impact on churches this year has dramatically spiked compared to the previous year.
In 2019, only 23 percent of pastors surveyed said that the economy was somewhat negatively impacting their churches. About3 percent of pastors feel that the economy in 2019 had negatively impacted their churches.
"The recovery from the last recession was slow for many churches," LifeWay Research Executive Director Scott McConnell said. "Even in a good economy, it can be easy to focus on external factors that are hurting your church's finances. Clearly, many pastors are seeing the recession in 2020 impacting their church."
Last month, there was also a new survey released by Ministry Brands. For those who may not be aware of it, they are a leading provider of software, services and information platforms for churches, ministries and others.
According to Ministry Brands' research, church leaders are likewise concerned about the financial and operational impact of COVID-19. However, Pat O'Donnell, the Managing Director of Ministry Brands added that parishes have risen to the challenge by maintaining services aligned to local restrictions and adapting to digital communications/ technology.
A copy of that national survey titled "Coping with COVID-19: Insights from Church Leaders" can be found here.