How are churches handling in-person worship these days?

I would love to hear how your local churches are handling COVID policies/practices these days for in-person worship services.

Specifically, I’m wondering:

  • what your churches are doing?
  • what do they use to inform decisions (e.g., certain data, government guidelines, etc.)?
  • how is attendance?
  • what have you been finding works well for re-engaging your local church body to attend in person?
  • If you’re not doing in-person services yet, what are you doing to disciple people remotely and what are you finding works to (re)engage your local church?

At our local church we’ve been trying to engage members remotely with minimal success, have had spotty attendance at face-to-face services (despite having one mask-required and one mask-optional service) and are noticing participation in discipleship activities is significantly down since March. We are typically a very engaged and connected local church of a few hundred families, but many are spiritually drifting at the moment and we’d love to learn from others how to address this.

We’re looking for ideas and I thought you all might have some great ones!

Thanks in advance,
Gary

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Hey @gabudjr, thought this was pretty interesting.

I live in Singapore, over here, if your church exceeds 50 people, it cannot reopen. Thus, most churches are doing online services, that is the case for the English Church that I attend.
Fortunately, the Japanese Church (yup I attend 2 churches) I attend doesn’t usually exceed 50 people (not counting non members) and pre registration is necessary.

Worship is possible, without singing and with masks on plus social distancing. — All compulsory. They would usually play the worship songs and we’d stand there worshipping in our hearts, followed by sermons :joy:.

Over the week, the pastor conducts prayer meetings and bible studies over zoom. I can’t really say how others are doing spiritually but our pastor started a youtube channel over this period and it has been gaining popularity pretty quickly in the Japanese community.

Personally, I’d say that this, for many of us is a time to spend 1 on 1 time with God. To discipline us and the church in actively and independently seeking God. Especially when life has been so chaotic, perhaps this slowdown and change is what we actually need.
I’ve been forced to take charge of my relationship with God more over this period as compared to getting fed passively (not that there is anything wrong with that). Serving on Connect, being part of an online community of a Church located in America (Elevation Church) while doing what I can here are good steps I’m trying to take to further walk with God.

It’s difficult and seems really bad, but I believe that God is still in control and definitely has a purpose for this. I’m glad to see the Christian community still striving despite odds. :pray:

Kiko

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Hi @Kiko,

Thanks for sharing your experience here. You’ve definitely got some great options in front of you for plugging into a church community. But I do really appreciate what you said about taking personal responsibility for your relationship with God at this time. I think that is one opportunity that this slow down in life has afforded us. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. Our church has offered the online service and some watched early on but then dropped off completely, similarly with Bible Study. Perhaps the autumn season will bring some change to that.

The signing up for worship service must help keep the number of attendees within the limits—that’s a creative idea. So, it sounds like you’re all being very wise in your processes to hold services while also providing options to the congregation—how great!

I hope your personal devotion to Christ continues to grow in this time.

Thanks again for sharing!
Gary

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Hey @gabudjr, I definitely agree with you on that. I can imagine that people would backslide in this difficult season Truthfully I’m struggling with it as well, let’s hope that the new season would bring some change :slight_smile:

And yup, we do it through a google form. All the best!

Kiko

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Hi Gary,

I have been wondering about this question myself and want to know what others are doing. Just like what @Kiko mentioned earlier, it is almost the same in our setting here in the Philippines. We have online services, pre-registration for in-person church meeting and all group gatherings should abide by what the local authorities have prescribed. I’ve been wrestling with this set-up as well and I truly miss the freedom to go to church and meeting with the community without the fear of contracting any virus. What we did in our group to continue discipleship is to meet through zoom regularly. Should we decide to meet in smaller groups, in-person we meet at cafe’s with max of four people including the group facilitator. I think the group has become more intimate this way and people tend to be more free to open up their lives in this fellowship setting. Other than that, all meetings have moved to zoom including prayer meetings and bible study. I also saw other churches open up live stream on Facebook and Youtube All of these has been a challenge for me and it made me close to the Lord on personally how I could commune with him more closely in these times. I hope to hear from others as well if they could share their best practices too!

Your sister in Christ,
Hannah

Hi @kiichimae, thanks for sharing your perspective on this. Sounds like your community is making good use of the digital ways that we all can connect. We have also used Zoom for our community groups to meet, though not everyone is comfortable with (or able to access) the technology; so, we have only been able to engage some of our church members that way.

What creative ways have you seen to engage members who aren’t inclined to the digital ways to connect?
Thanks,
Gary

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@gabudjr,

Digital connectivity does pose a challenge and definitely not everyone is fully on board. I myself am seeking effective ways other churches may have practiced. In our church, recently we have resumed in-person meetings as well as small group discipleships. Not much creativity there but more on abiding by the local policies in place with regards to group meetings such as setting maximum capacity of people in a defined space. Other than going digital, it’s pretty much difficult to find more ways we could continue services and discipleship.

I observed that there’s an upside on the area of discipleship for the youth. Normally, a youth group will need just a Friday night to have a youth fellowship. Now, since big group gatherings are not allowed, this population have been broken down to smaller group fellowship. These small groups composed of less than 5 will meet in their own agreed time and place to have their own meeting. Some have hosted fellowships in their homes for their own small groups. It requires more commitment for facilitators but we become closer this way.

Of course, some are still hesitant to meet with other people and that’s understandable but there’s no way to keep fellowship with them other than going online.

@kiichimae,

What a great outcome for your youth engagement—that’s wonderful to hear it is allowing for more intimate connections. I appreciate how your church is approaching things, it sounds similar to what we are experiencing, which is why I (like you) are looking to learn what others are doing and seeking creative solutions.

Thanks again for sharing your perspective on all this.

Gary

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