Five Likely Consequences of the Pandemic Most Church Leaders Do Not Expect


By Thom S. Rainer

There have been volumes written about the church world in a post-pandemic era. There have been webinars and blogs and podcasts and more. Indeed, I am one of those who has joined the chorus of voices sharing my perspectives with local congregations.

I have also been looking below the surface to see what might transpire that might not be readily obvious. These five likely consequences range from the trivial to the important.

  1. Many churches will always have one digital worship service available for emergencies. It is not unusual for a church to have one or more services a year that are canceled (or should be canceled) due to dangerous weather conditions. Since so many people have embraced streaming services, it will be easy to point them to a pre-recorded service if they can’t meet in person.
  1. Worship wars will decrease significantly. Church members have been exposed to a wide variety of worship styles during the pandemic. They now have the realization that the world does not come to an end when the style is not exactly their preference. There will be a greater openness to these worship styles in their own congregations.
  1. More churches will add automated door openers. Thanks to Tim Cool of Smart Church Solutions for making this observation in a podcast on Rainer on Leadership. People now prefer not to touch doors. These automatic openers are now affordable for most churches. 
  1. Fewer churches will have a person handing out bulletins/worship folders. That’s one more point of contact that can be avoided. Typically, there will be a sign that says something like, “Take One for the Worship Service.” Or there will be someone greeting people who points out the worship folders to those entering the worship center.
  1. The newest financial metric will be percentage of digital and scheduled giving to total giving. There will even be metrics that suggest what a healthy percentage will be. Even now, I am suggesting churches have no less than 60% for the ratio, with a guidance to try to get the digital and scheduled giving to at least 80%. I am aware of a larger established church that moved this ratio from 20% to 70% during the pandemic. I am also aware of a three-year old church with a ratio of 98%.

There will likely be many more consequences of the pandemic we did not expect in our churches. I would love to hear from you about the changes you think will take place.

Posted on May 4, 2020

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • William Talbot says on

    Is someone working on a web plug in to integrate Family unit registration for services upon return to in building worship? At a minimum, I would think it would need to handle the following:
    1. Process family unit registration for single worship opportunities.
    2. Allow guest to register
    3. Captura
    4. Provide Seat accounting for church check-in and release of seats due to changes in the status of the registrant.
    5. Provide “tunable” warning limits as quotas get close to full.
    6. Waitlist to allow tracking of those who may be given priority in the future.

    Feel free to reach out to me with questions or talk to someone developing such an application.

    Bill Talbot

  • Ken, Darrell, do you really think people should be put down if they have health concerns and so choose not to gather in person?

    Or what about my devout RCC friends who lived in a part of Utah years ago where there was no RCC church in drivable distance. The priest at the nearest parish encouraged them to do family rosary, family CCD, nightly family altar time, and come to church yes, Christmas and Easter IF the weather meant the roads were good.

    It might be even younger families will want to homeschool and homechurch a while longer, especially if their job isn’t opened up yet. The less they are exposed the more time they can be face to face with elderly family members.

    What about the families with folks on biologic meds that leave their immune system compromised? Or those with other diseases that make them more at risk? Or those that are introverts and just plain meet with God better, and with other people better, with distancing?

    I’m afraid your replies give, I suspect erroneously, the idea you figure anyone not in a physical building on Sunday morning, sans fever, is a huge sinner.

    Where two or three are gathered He IS there. And where two is not possible for whatever reason, He will meet us in the desert, will He not?

  • Darrell Pace says on

    I think people have been blessed to get to listen to numerous pastors during this time and hopefully they will continue to do this and grow deeper. But, we cannot replace gathering together in the physical sense. Jesus gathered His disciples. He said where two or three gather in His name, He would be in our midst. The early church grew in fellowship because they gathered together and shared with each other. They also grew in number. Gathering online is not the same as gathering in person. We need the human touch in person. Thank God we have been able to keep our churches together through social media, but long term it cannot suffice. Make disciples by developing relationships. Do it online if you can buy be sure you also do it in person.

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