Barna Survey Says Most Churches Won’t Open in May

(AP Photo)

Barna Group, a research firm at the cross-section between faith and culture, today released new survey results showing how churches have been impacted by coronavirus shelter-in-place policies and how many are planning to reopen.

Barna launched ChurchPulse Weekly in March in order to arm church leaders with the data and insights they need to thrive through the pandemic. Every week Barna has surveyed hundreds of church leaders to learn more about the state of the church throughout COVID-19.

“This season has really put the role pastors play in our communities into a fresh light,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “As spiritual guides, they have innovated in order to bring hope and encouragement to their congregation. As community leaders, they have been great and agile adaptors in order to meet needs—spiritual and material—throughout this crisis. I think there’s no doubt that the positive impact of the church on its community is being recognized afresh.”

Now, with six weeks of surveys complete, Barna data show a picture of how churches have adapted and what they expect moving forward. Over time the data show that:

—Most church leaders (48% of week one respondents) were initially hopeful that they would be able to meet again in April. As of this week, nearly a majority (46% of week six respondents) anticipate they will be able to meet in person in June. Despite some states lifting regulations for sheltering in place, fewer (37%) anticipate reopening in May.

—Financial giving to churches took a significant hit in the first few weeks of COVID-19 shutdowns in March, but now in late April, it appears to be stabilizing. In week one, 37% reported their giving was “significantly down” versus only 11% in week six.

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SOURCE: Charisma News