In the midst of a global pandemic, the church is becoming who she was made to be. Leaving old divisions behind, congregations around the world are rising up as one body to respond to this crisis.
Sunday services look different these days. If you have an internet connection, there’s thousands of church live streams to choose from. No more worries about turning up late, half-way through the first worship song. You can even ‘go to church’ in your pyjamas.
Thousands more tune in to church across the UK
We may (and should) long for the day we can all meet together again, but the temporary shut down of in-person church services is not all bad. In fact, churches have become more accessible than ever before – and thousands more are attending.
A recent ComRes survey for Tearfund discovered that a quarter of UK adults have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown. And one in twenty of those people say they have never been to church before. That equates to potentially hundreds of thousands of non-churchgoers across the UK tuning in to services*. Churches have a unique opportunity right now to connect with many who would never normally walk through their doors.
In this together
At the heart of every church – from Baptist to Anglican to Eastern Orthodox – is the love of Christ. And we are seeing that love put into action in new and extraordinary ways.
A message that has become familiar during the coronavirus pandemic is ‘we’re in this together’. It’s no different for the church, and this crisis has pushed churches to put aside their doctrinal differences and work together to provide practical support for those in need.
A quarter of UK adults have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown. One in twenty of those people say they have never been to church before.
Churches are busier than ever, with congregations coming together to volunteer in new initiatives – from delivering food packages to checking in on isolated or older people. And as churches unite and engage with their communities on deeper levels, the message of the gospel shines brighter.
A few weeks ago, over 65 churches across the UK joined together virtually to encourage the nation with a beautiful rendition of the worship song The Blessing. The response from the general public was overwhelmingly positive. The video quickly went viral on multiple social media platforms and was even featured on national television.
A worldwide response
At Tearfund, the stories coming in from our staff and hundreds of local church partners share one common theme – just as in the UK, churches everywhere are uniting to help the most vulnerable in their communities.
Tearfund’s model of working with local churches is proving effective in a time of crisis. When businesses and organisations are forced to close their doors, the church remains. Church leaders know the needs of their local community and are able to respond quickly.
‘The church can reach the community in ways other organisations cannot,’ explains Marc Romyr Antoine, who leads Tearfund’s work in Haiti. ‘We can show everyone the strength of the church in difficult times.’
Brazil is another place where Tearfund has been encouraged to see churches working together in response to the pandemic. Tearfund staff in Brazil are now working on creating an online platform where partners, local churches, and individuals can share resources.