Something that in my opinion is an incredible blessing is the ability to go to Church by way of the Internet. It does not absolutely substitute for going in person, but the fact is that given the circumstances, it is a well-meaning and temporarily good way to bridge the gap between isolation from Church and the command to gather as a community and the need to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading.
However, many people have not availed themselves of this. According to the Christian post, half of Christians have said they have not attended any sort of church services online.
Nearly half of churchgoers haven’t watched an online service in the last four weeks, and among those who have, only 40% say they’ve been watching services from their regular home church, according to recent polling data.
The new data from the Barna Group was highlighted in a blog post by Carey Nieuwhof, a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church in Ontario, Canada.
In the post, Nieuwhof noted that 48% of churchgoers reported that they had not watched any church online in the last four weeks. Less than half of the remaining 52% who did watch church online said they watched the service of their own church, with a “surprising 23%” reporting that they streamed a different church online, Nieuwhof said.
And while some church leaders have been clamoring for churches to be allowed to reopen their buildings to re-start in-person services, Nieuwhof said research also shows that not everyone plans on rushing back to the pews.
“As tempting as it will be to reopen the doors and believe everyone is coming back, the data (right now) shows that’s probably not the case,” Nieuwhof noted. “To begin, social distancing makes full rooms impossible and, until it’s safe to do mass gatherings, unwise. Full rooms are months away, if not longer.”
He cited recent polling data from personal growth platform Gloo from thousands of church leaders showing that there is little consensus on when it will be “safe” to gather again in public.
Only 21.5% of pastors said a low community level of coronavirus cases would be a good time for them to reopen for services again. Some 17% said only when social distancing and stay at home guidelines are lifted, while 14% said when local businesses are open.
Another 8% noted that the opening of local restaurant seating would be a good sign to reopen. Smaller percentages of pastors said they first wanted to see either widely available testing, the reopening of schools, or a vaccine before they would hold in-person services.
Some 15% required all of those conditions to be met, while some 10% said they just weren’t sure when they would reopen. (source)
This is not a surprise, and it is also unfortunate.
American Christianity is generally unable to separated from American nationalism. This affects all denominations, and the more “traditional” or “conservative” leaning the denomination, the greater the tendency towards this. However, and not surprisingly, the hardest hit denominations are the abundance of Evangelical Protestant type ones because, while not explicitly stating it, the embrace of all things American is equivalent to being a Christian.
This is the real beauty of the Catholic Faith, for the Catholic Faith, while emphasizing the importance of borders, national identity, and local culture, never fails to embrace all peoples regardless of race, place, or period in history, and given that all men are brothers in Christ by baptism, one cannot exclude another people or use religion as a tool of state power. For example, Texas is not Idaho is not Florida is not Michigan is not Maine, but all are subject to the Federal Government, and are all under one law even though expressions differ by state. This is the Catholic Church’s view- that God is the sovereign over all peoples and nations, and while there are many rooms, they are all a part of the Father’s house and are subject to His rule and order, and all people must work together for the common good of each other and others.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true in the American sense, for “freedom of religion” is but to have many competing and completely opposing philosophical systems, but under the embrace of pagan secularism. It is this reason why American Christianity is dying- it cannot survive because the environment in which it is located effectively chokes natural growth.
When it is combined with the natural declines taking place in American society, religion is suffering in the same way that it is in Europe. This is the great interest in “Latino Christianity”, for it is a largely Protestant attempt to replace their hemhorraging losses from the European-American peoples, and in spite of strong efforts, even the new “Latino” base is quickly eroding.
The country is changing, and this is a rise in secularism. Watch this trend carefully as it is likely going to continue for a long time.