COVID-19 — Churches Need A New Approach
Spoke to my Dad yesterday and as we chatted he casually complained about the family's inability to send the usual gifts to the clergymen at Easter.
This disease has clearly impacted religion and I reckon more will be in the offing in the coming months as serious countries become concerned about the second wave of this disease. It's extremely easy for the virus to make a comeback.
Seeing how deadly the disease may be in the midst of religious gathering, will laws regarding social distancing be enacted? A case in point, after a choir practice in Washington state 45 out of the 60 choir members contracted the disease and 2 of them are already dead with 3 more in critical condition.
What happens to the large buildings of mega churches serviced by tithes and offerings by carefully packed congregants? Will online streaming services be a viable alternative seeing the proven low attention span for online instructions? How easy is it to conduct Sunday School and Bible Studies on Zoom?
What about those on rural areas whose internet connectivity is not strong enough?
This may largely be great food-for-thought for black-dominated American churches as they now make up the largest segment of church goers in the developed world, but may be Nigerian pastors should start paying attention.
It is now obvious that in real emergencies, the Nigerian state will not pander to religious sentiments and would close all religious houses despite pentecostal pastors' claim to healing powers. By the way, what better opportunity exist for them to back up this claim than now when the world needs it the most?
But then, I digress...
The authorities don't want to know that scriptures say believers 'should not forsake the assembly of one another..." They will simply close them down.
What sustains the participation in most churches in Nigeria (or anywhere in the world) is less the impact of Christianity in their lives than the opportunity to fellowship with other believers including socialization.
Only churches who are able to proactively adapt to what this pandemic brings may be the only ones who will defy religious contraction as we expect decline in church attendance even after the lockdowns are lifted.