The Covid 19 Pandemic Context
When awareness of the novel coronavirus “Covid 19” surfaced in 2020 as a significant threat to human well-being and global stability, many leaders and members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church anticipated that the impact of this disease would have been quickly contained by the world’s advanced scientific knowledge.
When this anticipated early containment of the virus did not materialize, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, like many other churches and organizations across the world, was caught unprepared to adequately respond to the devastating impact of national lockdown orders in many countries in which the church operates.
The inability of congregants to physically gather for worship, quickly signalled a monumental crisis for the church.
• Revenue fell precipitously
• Baptismal services were restricted and membership accession rates plummeted.
• Leaders loss much control and influence over members
• Some members were left without structured spiritual support.
• Members and others alike started dying as a result of the virus, and families were plunged into various crises.
• There was no clear prophetic answer to the global crisis.
The Adaptability Challenge
If the church were to experience rapid and transformational change to its functions, form or faith; that changed would have to be forced by external factors.
The covid 19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown orders provided the stimulus for the rapid shift to virtual church services as the main modality for the “gathering” of the believers.
Having become more familiar with the virtual church modality, forced by the covid 19 pandemic, many church leaders are now in earnest, contemplating the future of virtual church services, in an attempt to be more proactive about the future than there were in the past.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
Virtual church services demonstrate that the church’s faith is more resilient than its forms, functions, structures and institutions. Therefore, this insight provides a strong indicator that virtual services can become a viable and sustainable alternative to in-person church services.
The current attendance and multi-demographics at mega virtual church services significantly outperform traditional church services, proving that virtual church services can be more advantageous in spreading the gospel to everyone.