Hey Church Family,
I hope you’ve had a great week! This past week our staff team met and discussed how we felt things were going in our church. It was encouraging to hear some of the good things God is doing in our congregation. I’ve heard so many great stories of how God is moving even though we’ve had to drastically change the way we “do church.”
I’ll be honest, though. I was pretty concerned during our time of sharing with the staff over the slow and steady decline of congregational engagement since COVID-19 unleashed itself on the world. We aren’t the only church seeing this trend. All over city and across the state of Texas I hear the same thing from most of my pastor friends.
What other pastors are saying:
“After Easter our online numbers started dropping and they haven’t come back since…”
“Our summer livestreams get less than 50% of the engagement we saw in April and May…”
“Our in person gatherings only draw about 25-35% of our pre-COVID attendance…”
“It seems like people are engaging with the church less and less… the giving is still strong but we aren’t sure how long that’s going to last…”
“I think people have been out of church for so long that they’re not going to be coming back anytime soon… if at all…”
“I’m out of ideas… I’m out of energy… I don’t know how much longer we can keep doing things this way…”
Where are we?
Obviously, some of those statements are less positive than others. And, there is the occasional story where the reverse is true. Some churches have seen incredible growth during this season. Engagement AND numerical growth.
Where are WE? What’s my response when people ask the question, “So how is Broadview doing in all of this?” The answer is encouraging on many fronts. On others, there’s a significant concern.
Like most churches, we remain financially strong. I’m so thankful that the vast majority of you continued giving even though you weren’t physically attending the services. I’m also encouraged that many of you choose to attend in person. Our attendance at first was around 40% of pre-COVID attendance but after our infection rate in Abilene went high, our attendance went low.
We are seeing around 25% of our pre-COVID attendance in our physical gatherings and our online engagement has decreased by about 65 to 70% of where it first started. That has been a discouraging statistic.
Thankfully, when you count the cumulative total of online views the numbers go back up. I do think many people are streaming the services “on demand” later on in the week at a time and place that fits their schedule or unique circumstances. We may have to start measuring engagement in a different way so that we can actually see the truth of where things are at.
We said in our staff meeting that for us, personally, and for many others in our church, the fact that July 12th was anticipated as a big “back to church” Sunday and then we had to cancel services instead of kicking back off – ended up being a metaphorical kick in the stomach. I know I sure felt that way. I don’t know about you.
I think many people are tired of online church. I think many people are tired of online anything. I think people are tired of COVID-19. I think people are tired of being tired. I think all of us are feeling the heaviness of the way things are and the discouragement that comes from feeling like our world is out of control.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
It more important now than it’s ever been for us to reconnect with one another. Even if we cannot do it in person, we need to find some way to reconnect. I think COVID-19 and the issues surrounding it are here to stay. We are just going to have to learn to live with it. For that reason, we are going to go ahead and bring back our adult small groups and third worship service.
Things may be small in attendance but at least the opportunities will be available. Things won’t be “back to normal” by any stretch of the imagination but they will be back to some semblance of the way they used to be. Instead of retreating we are moving forward.
We will still be taking all of our usual precautions. In fact, we’ve even increased the spacing of our chairs in the sanctuary and removed chairs so that physical distancing can better be achieved. We just think that having adult small groups back on campus will give people an opportunity to reconnect and experience again the unique unity that comes when you gather with God’s people.
I filmed a quick video explaining the situation.
New Service Times
As you saw in the video, starting August 16th we will have THREE service times for in-person worship gatherings. We will also have two small group gatherings with options for adults, children and preschool.
Traditional Service: 8:15
Contemporary Service: 9:30
“At Home” (Online Style) Service: 11:00
Small Groups at 9:30 & 11:00
Student Ministry at 11:00
The traditional service and the “At Home” service will be live streamed on our website and social media channels. Each of these services will be “in person gatherings” but the “At Home” style service will be a different style of service than the traditional or contemporary.
Honestly, we don’t even know all of the ways in which it’ll be different. We know the sermon and the music will be shorter, include more direct engagement with the at home audience and include discussion questions with live interaction. Besides that, we’ll just be experimenting.
We know we need to try something different because the way we’ve been doing it thus far is not connecting as well as it could. The “At Home” service will be specially geared for families watching from home with their family or another small group.
The sermon will be specifically geared for that kind of setting instead of the live audience in the room. The same will hnew true for the music and other service elements. Again, this is just an experiment to see if we can raise the level of engagement with our at home audience.
I know many of you love the livestream just the way it is! That’s why we will still have a livestream of the traditional service. That is the most attended livestream we have right now and we are leaving that the way it is. The other livestream will be the “At Home” service at 11:00.
We may not do this for long. Like I said, it’s just an experiment to see if we can increase our online engagement. When we have more details to share we will certainly communicate those. I hope you’ll be praying for us as we navigate this new world and the best way to reach people in it.
Join us this weekend!
I also hope you’ll join us for worship THIS WEEKEND. We will be practicing physical distancing and encourage the use of masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained. If you cannot join us in person, please join us online!
We will work hard to make our campus a safe environment for everyone. That being said, certain elements are outside of our control. If you have questions you can always reply to this email and I’ll try and answer them for you.
If I don’t see you tomorrow, I’ll see you on the internet! Have a great rest of your weekend!