Lifeway Research's recent survey on protestant church goers' views on church participation during COVID-19 show that 86% say they are proud of and pleased by their churches' response to the UN and WHO declared pandemic.
Participated by 1,000 American Protestant churchgoers from February 5-18, the survey's data showed that majority of church people supported their leaders' response and handling of the pandemic.
"86% of U.S. Protestant churchgoers say they are proud of how their church has responded during the coronavirus pandemic, while 12% say they are ashamed," wrote Lifeway in its survey highlights.
According to the survey, young adults, aged between 18 and 19, are the most likely to be critical of their church's handling of a national health emergency. For the 12%, the research worded the poll as "I am ashamed of how my church has responded during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said this of the pastors.
"Pastors have heard their share of second-guessing for how they have handled their church's response to COVID-19. But a large majority of churchgoers agree with their church's various responses, and few are critical overall."
For in-person services, more than half (51%) of congregants have not attended any on site church gatherings since January 2021. Services and other events were mostly held online since the onset of the pandemic. For those who resumed their in-person services last year, survey says that less than 1 in 10 Protestant churches did that in late March and April which only increased from June-September, but was also ultimately reduced at the entry of a new year.
McConnell is careful to note that the experiences of churchgoers vary depending on their churches response on the impact of the pandemic.
"A large minority of churchgoers attend a church that did not offer in-person services for much of 2020. As January illustrates, just because a church offered in-person services does not mean every churchgoer was willing to participate in that way with the coronavirus still actively circulating," said McConnell.
Due to several restrictions in accordance with following health protocols, most churches got creative in their adjustments. Aside from technology aided approaches like livestreams (85%), pre-recorded service videos (76%), and online Bible studies (52%), churches have also offered outdoor services where it's done either in wide open spaces (39%) or drive-in places (30%).
The research added that more than half (58%) of the members from churches that offered outdoor worship service participated. The same goes for drive-in worship services where 56% of church members said they have attended. Attendees for these types of services were young adults aged 18 to 19. Church people over 50 years are more likely to be content with online participation.
"Much like the old children's song, churches have been inside, outside, upside, and downside during this pandemic," said McConnell. "It would be a stretch to say churchgoers have been 'happy all the time,' but amid the variety of approaches and technology used, a majority of churchgoers participated at some point in what their church offered."