COVID lockdown is forcing churches to come up with new ways of doing ministry.
A new report shows that many Christians are now turning to virtual churches and social media for their spiritual sustenance more than ever before, as the UK Government imposes another COVID-19 lockdown.
The report published by FutureBelievers reveals that Christian ministries are experiencing consistent growth through their online services. Due to a bigger reach, engagement, and conversion metrics, more churches are now preaching the gospel via zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
The researchers say that “believers” who did not believe in social media before the lockdown are now converted and convinced that the way forward for ministries is not only through the four walls of a church building, but also online.
Chuka Ajeko, a Christian in Beckton, London, said, “There is hardly anything you cannot do online, these days, from confession to communion, preaching, praying, and prophesy. It’s all done online.”
“You can receive personal prayer, and you can join a zoom group prayer meeting,” said Ajeko.
Today, the population of the world is about 7.8 billion. 2.5 billion people are on social media, which is about 33% of the world’s population. No wonder a lot of Churches now have online services. However, that was not the reason why believers embraced social media. The real reason is as a result of lockdown restrictions.
Over the years, we have seen the Church grow with the times. While some congregations are stagnant and stuck in their old ways of doing ministries, many are embracing new technology. Remember, the first time the Bible got to the hands of Moses, it was a tablet. Not IPAD or android tablets as we have it today, but a pure stone tablet. After innovations like scrolls and paper, now, we have gone full circle and we are back to tablets again, only this time, electronic tablets.
A few years ago, you could read the Bible only through the pages of a thick book, but now, you can have a combination of your Bible, thesaurus, dictionary, and Christian history all on your phone, tablet, smartwatch, and most electronic devices. As a result, many preachers are no longer sure if their congregations are actually following when they nod in agreement during a sermon, while fully concentrated on their phones. Sam Aluko of Church of God, in Sutton, Surrey, said, “You can only imagine that they (your congregation) are following you. The interesting thing is when someone sits in the pew and decides it is more interesting to listen to the same sermon, at the same time, on Facebook or Twitter.”
Social media gives people the opportunity to make comments and ask questions, something that would have been almost impossible to do during a church service.
Some people could present their concerns anonymously, and ask thought-provoking questions that would have been very embarrassing if they were unable to hide under the anonymity that social media offers.
If modern technology has changed the way we read the Bible, coronavirus has changed the way we do Church.
This year, we’ve had the Drive-through Church, online services, Facebook Cell group, Twitter fellowship, sermon on Youtube, Zoom prayer meeting, Tik-Tok service of songs, and many more.
All these innovations are largely due to lockdown restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One advantage of this development is that many more people are now connecting with churches than ever before. Likewise, ministers are now connecting with people outside their geographical locations and outside their congregations. However, the congregation is now equipped with a choice. Perhaps, this is a good or bad thing. People can now attend more than one church service at the same time. It is now easier to switch between the sermon of a preacher at one church, to the exhortation of another in a different church, all in the comfort of their bedroom.
The year has changed everything. 2020 is a highly contagious year. It is infected with a virus, perhaps, we need to reboot or reinstall.
By Alex IWUOHA