How Churches have Changed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the beginning of the pandemic, there was no predicting what the future would hold. It has been over 220 days – or several months – since we have been in a globally declared pandemic, and daily life looks different than ever before.

Specifically, church communities, elders and leaders have been extremely creative in their methods to connect with their members and newcomers. Testimonies from Patrick Kelly, Siloam Springs Bible Church associate pastor, and wife, Rebecca Kelly, grant a perspective into these challenges from a church leadership position during these times. 

Patrick Kelly said, “It has actually put a fair amount of pressure on church leadership to be keeping up with the state restrictions and guidelines to keep people safe … [and] they want to simultaneously honor JBU restrictions as they may vary to make everyone feel safe and welcome.”

Located in a Christian college town, students at John Brown University face the challenges of having to work with different sets of COVID-19 restrictions with classes, work and church.

Though this season has created an intense reset within the Christian community, it has been made clear that it is not always bad. Patrick Kelly said, “I think that it has forced us to think back to what are we about. We are about making disciples; we’re about glorifying God. And what is essential? And make sure that happens.”

Sometimes people find themselves taking a step back from the seemingly dull moments to reevaluate the motions the years have delivered to them. Once the pandemic slows down, there may be some changes that stick around, but this time has been called “a new normal.”

“There’s an irony going on,” Patrick Kelly states,  “we always hear the phrase ‘social distance,’ when really, we should be physically distant, not socially distant. People are staying around long after service is finished to enjoy fellowship when normally the program makes things feel rushed.” He continued, “I’m hoping some of that slowness as we approach worship and as we communicate with each other stays.”

Rebecca Kelly further agreed,  stating, “People are getting more creative with truly authentic fellowship.”

Perhaps the experience of 2020 was not what many planned for. However, out of pain and suffering can come amazing beauty: a time to reset, recharge and reevaluate the way we love and serve the Lord our God.

Photo courtesy of Cal Piston