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Penna Dexternever miss viewpoints

Many churches did a wonderful job providing digital services during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The trouble is, now some are finding it difficult to wean significant proportions of their congregations off of the convenience of online church.  It’s a worldwide problem.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed by Paul Glader, a Kings College professor who is also Executive Director of Religion Unplugged, and John Semakula, a reporter at the Ugandan daily newspaper New Vision, is entitled “Are Internet Services as Good As Church?”

The answer is ‘No’ but, according to a survey by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research, 45 percent of those who experienced worship online think it “is equal or superior to the in-person experience.” The companies surveyed more than 1000 evangelical Protestants and found that only 44% want to return to in-person worship services.

Pastors voice concerns about the phenomenon:

  • One is that people tend to multitask while watching services online, therefore losing focus.
  • Another is that congregants took the opportunity to “digitally visit” other new churches. Ron Sellers, President of Grey Matters wonders “whether this will ultimately lead to church nomads, who surf the internet for new church experiences rather than putting down roots and becoming part of a church community.”
  • Also, it’s difficult to keep members who are still accessing worship services from home engaged.
  • In some parts of the world, large swaths of congregations cannot afford internet connections. One Ugandan pastor complained that many left the church or slid in their faith during the pandemic.
  • Without an in-person offertory, some churches experienced a precipitous decline in giving.

In Acts 2, we read of the rich benefits of worshipping in community. We need fellowship with other believers, and we need liturgy. Every church has some form of liturgy — some more than others.

Author Rod Dreher wrote on his blog that rich liturgy engenders “the felt sense that God is ‘everywhere present and filling all things’.”

We need to get back to church.penna's vp small

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