Most U.S. Churches Plan on Celebrating Easter Digitally With 93 Percent Expected to Gather Online Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

As 93 percent of churches in the United States are holding online-only services due to the new coronavirus outbreak, the majority of the congregations will celebrate Easter digitally, according to two studies.

While 99 percent of churches held services on their campuses on the first weekend of March, only 7 percent did so on March 29, according to Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

“Gathering for worship as a local church is a fundamental expression of the body of Christ, but so are valuing life and loving others,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “As mitigation guidance first impacted large churches, the majority of churches with 200 or more attendees were not meeting by March 15, and only 1% of them met March 22 as guidance continued to shift.”

As next weekend is Easter, 58 percent of pastors say they plan to hold a digital service with 45 percent sharing plans to livestream online and another 13 percent recording an Easter message to send out to congregants, according to the State of the Church report by Barna Group.

While 20 percent admits there is no plan in place yet, 10 percent say they will hold an outdoor service, 5 percent hope to find another unique way to convene, and just 2 percent say they will meet as usual this Easter, the study said, adding that 5 percent plan to postpone their Easter celebration for the time being.

“If you as a pastor have a certain way you preach or approach [the Easter message], I think it’s important for you to do your best to bring who you are to the message,” Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and Innovation Leader at Life.Church and founder of the YouVersion Bible app, said in a recent ChurchPulse Weekly broadcast. “It’s great if you can have some level of worship incorporated in it as well. It doesn’t have to be the same type of experience as you would have in your physical environment. … So whatever that looks like — people are relatively forgiving right now — I would incorporate some aspect of worship into what’s being built for Easter.”

Gruenewald encouraged smaller churches to “build some type of a video experience” as there’s sufficient time and smartphones can also record good videos.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar