A recent study, Trends in the Black Church, examines how the pandemic has affected black faith communities. The data was gathered through follow-up with a group of 1,083 U.S. black adults and 822 black churchgoers who had participated in an online survey conducted April 22–May 6, 2020. According to the findings, more than 40 percent of black churchgoers want to attend a mix of online and in-person services when the pandemic is over.
Alex McFarland of the "Exploring the Word" radio program believes the figures are similar among white evangelical churchgoers.
"I'm hearing from a lot of camps that post-COVID, church attendance is not what it was pre-COVID," he relays. "While a lot of tithing and giving seemed to be strong through 2020, now giving seems to be less than what it was pre-COVID."
But McFarland points out that the Bible is clear about the need for believers to meet face-to-face.
"The online church is what a lot of people want to default to, but New Testament-wise and throughout 2,000 years of church history, the body of believers of all strata, we are to meet weekly for worship and for the preaching of the Word," he states.
"I know it's the 21st century. I know that we have computers and streaming, but we are not to abandon what we've called the weekly worship and function of the local church," the apologist insists.
And McFarland hopes church leaders will resist the temptation to entice people to come back with gimmicks and a softer gospel.
"If we want people to give of their time and their finances, we're going to have to feed them substance and the Word of God," he concludes.