Researcher Says Health of Post-Coronavirus Church Depends on Vibrant Small Groups

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Though much is still unknown about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on churches, one thing is certain: The health of the Body of Christ will depend largely on a vibrant small group system, a researcher has said.

“Megachurch 2020,” a survey conducted by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability in partnership with the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, found that overwhelmingly, small groups are central to megachurches’ spiritual formation of members.

When asked if small groups are central to their strategy of Christian nurture and spiritual formation, a staggering 90% of megachurches — defined as churches with attendance of 2,000 or greater — said “yes” — a 40% increase from 2000.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Warren Bird, vice president of research and equipping at ECFA and co-author of the report, said small groups have become a “far higher priority” for megachurches over the last 20 years.

This trend, according to Bird, is likely to continue. He predicted that, as the COVID-19 pandemic fades away, the churches that “do small groups well” will most likely be “stronger” than those that do not.

“In light of the pandemic, so much of church health today depends on a vibrant, small group system underneath the big gatherings, whether they’re in person or online,” he said.

“Much like in the pandemic, the churches that are most threatened are those with preexisting health conditions,” Bird explained. “The churches that are going to have the hardest time re-surfacing will be ones that depended solely on the Sunday morning gathering. They will have a hard time re-gathering, rebuilding momentum, and reestablishing their mission as a church.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett