COVID-19 impact on Church Attendance

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Since its first appearance in the last year of 2019, Covid-19 has interrupted the normal going of societies. There wasn’t a single place that wasn’t impacted by the virus in one way or another and one of the top countries affected with a large number of cases and deaths was the United States of America. The United States accumulated 38,814,596 Covid cases which resulted in 646,667 deaths since August 24, 2021. 

Even with the severity of this virus and the overworked hospitals, there is a likely chance that these numbers are still underestimated and the impacts have heavily impacted, uprooted, and distorted the normality of Americans including the church-going communities as well.

This is an issue because the United States is a place where there are many religions that are often practiced in large gatherings. Covid-19 became an obstacle to that and as a result, church attendance began to decline. This adds to the trend decline in church attendance because prior to Covid-19, various factors such as the generational gap, trends, and customs were already impacting individuals too. 

In-person gatherings? 

Large gatherings are a normality in churches and that has never been an issue until now that they are becoming hot spots for COVID inflected. As the cases in various states began to pile up, several quarantine mandates were issued in hopes of preventing the spread. But this mandate wasn’t met without resistance from many communities such as churches.  

In one case, there was a bible study gathering linked to the infection of 70 people despite the multiple warnings from the Sacramento County Department of Health. Yet despite these warnings, the congregations still continue to meet given that their leaders didn’t encourage their members to stop meeting. But the church saw it as the Department of Health going against them when that wasn’t the case. 

Another case of large cases of infection came when churches were allowed to reopen in July 2020 to reopen which resulted in more than 650 cases. Even when the church community was given the okay to be able to gather it didn’t mean that they didn’t face the chances of getting infected with the virus. 

Safety First 

In one example, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided guidelines regarding the faith community since they acknowledged the important role that the church played in society. WHO urged the faith community to limit large gatherings to lower the risk covid spread by respiratory droplets and coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or individuals. 

This caused Americans to no longer attend church in person but rather to attend their service online instead. As a result, church attendance grew more in an online setting as fear of catching the virus spread.

Barna study Neiuwhof references show 35% of all church-goers surveyed liked both in-person and online services. Yet that number is low compared to the large number of churchgoers that prefer in-person gathering. According to Barna survey, 58% of men and 45% of women prefer in-person gatherings. Which are frightening numbers when considering the safety regulations. 

Based on a survey conducted by Faithlife in ongoing challenges in the churches are 34%

in-person church gatherings, 19% mask-wearing, 13% worship styles, and 13% are conspiracy theories (13%) and 9% of churches reported no divisiveness in these issues.

Outcomes and Solutions

The guidelines provided by WHO were given for the safety of the communities in hopes of stopping the COVID spread yet some church gatherings kept occurring which resulted in COVID deaths. This is why acknowledging the consequences are important because proper prevention could have led to saving more lives rather than creating deaths.

One example to take preventative measures would be taking recurring COVID tests and for those who test positive to limit their interaction with others who may face a higher risk of catching it. Making sure to keep the room ventilated to keep the air circulating and having a mask on is another solution as well. Wearing a mask can be uncomfortable but it serves as a barrier between one’s self and COVID droplets left behind by someone who is infected. 

There are now several vaccines created to help protect oneself from the most severe COVID symptoms. The vaccines are not 100% full proof to stop someone from getting infected but they were meant to serve as a way to help the body defend itself in case the individual was to get infected. 

By following the guidelines above, people would be doing their part to stop the spread of the virus. This can help church attendees grow closer in returning to normality and offering service before God.