ALMOST nine in ten church leaders report having during the pandemic reached people who would not normally attend a service, but donations to almost half the churches included in its survey have fallen, the Evangelical Alliance reports.
The first instalment of its report, Changing Church: Responding to the coronavirus crisis, was released on Wednesday. Based on a survey, carried out last month, of 451 churches and 1061 individuals, it focused on “high-level headlines” generated by the survey’s results, including how 96 per cent of respondents aged 18-24 had been to an online church service in the previous month.
Alongside this, 88 per cent of those hosting online church meetings said that they had attracted viewers who would not normally attend services. One in five church leaders who responded said that a significant number of those watching would not usually attend.
This is a significant increase from its previous report published in June. Of its respondents, 59 per cent of churches had seen an increase in people wanting to know about the Christian faith during the pandemic. This was accompanied by 70 per cent of church leaders’ reporting that the number of people who were attending online services but did not usually go to services had increased.
In the latest report, however, 46 per cent of churches said that donations had gone down during the pandemic. This was particularly the case for churches in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where donations decreased, on average, by a quarter.
The charity also reported that online children’s ministry was an area in which churches lacked confidence. Changing Church drew attention to how only 18 per cent of church leaders were runnning children’s ministry in-person weekly. A further ten per cent of those surveyed said that they were doing so monthly.
Another instalment of the report, to be published on 11 November, will cover church function and finance. A third will cover mission and evangelism, and a fourth will examine the future of the Church.
The UK director of the Evangelical Alliance, Peter Lynas, said: “As always, we hope these reports tell a story of what is currently happening, but, more importantly, that they help our members and others to plan for the future. The Church has changed how it operates, but not what it does.”