How Can Churches Cope With the Impact of Covid-19?

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Churches play one of the most critical roles in Kenyan society. According to Global Religious Futures, 84.8% of Kenyans are Christian. As such, the Covid-19 pandemic and closure of places of worship have rocked the nation. Sunday services are a core part of the Kenyan culture. Not only are churches a place of spiritual nourishment, but they also form an integral part of the country's social and political landscape.

Through church services, people find the opportunity to give back to the community and find meaning through social projects. Also, churches offer solace and hope during trying times as well as a place to share joy through wedding celebrations and social gatherings. The government directive to ban religious congregations have left many believers frustrated and alone. Preachers are unable to meet the spiritual needs of their congregants, and church members are unable to find meaning through community building.

While the move to keep churches closed faces harsh criticism, it has steered the nation into a new digital era as more people embrace the use of technology to adapt. With services no longer available to the nation's faithfuls, churches turn to alternative methods for their services. Some churches have shifted their services to TV broadcasts of Sunday Services. Others have turned to online services in a bid to keep the spiritual fire burning.

However, few churches were ready for the move, and many are still struggling to adjust to the new normal.

So, how can churches cope with the impact of Covid-19?

  1. With most people staying at home on Sundays, churches can leverage the power of the internet to engage with their faithfuls. One of the mistakes that many churches are making is underestimating the importance of building an online presence. Live online Sunday services alone are not enough to engage members. Churches should engage members through social media platforms as well as their website. By offering content throughout the week, churches can successfully keep faithfuls active despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
  2. While making a move to digital services, churches need to keep in mind that not all people are tech-savvy or have the data to participate in live services. As such, they need to engage members through radio, TV, print media, or even bulk messaging tools such as Simple SMS. Sending words of encouragement through SMS and tips to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic can reassure members that the church is still concerned and active in building the community.
  3. Apart from the conventional ways of engaging faithfuls, churches need to develop creative ways to encourage social participation in the church. As mentioned earlier, the church is a critical part of the society for both spiritual and social nourishment. Developing online seminars, video conferences, and podcasts on social issues can add value to the community. These include marriage seminars, teenage conferences, interviews, and music extravaganzas online.
  4. Churches should engage their faithfuls in community projects to give back to society, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. When the economy is harsh, particularly for low-income households, churches should take the initiative to help the vulnerable members of society. Through features such as Lipa Solutions, churches can engage faithfuls in raising money to help the needy through feeding programs and awareness initiatives on Covid-19.

The closure of churches due to the Covid-19 has negatively impacted many churches and frustrated congregants. As cases of Covid-19 continue to rise steadily, churches should find ways to adapt and continue giving hope and direction during such dark times.

By Christine Njoki - Published 30th Jun 2020, 01:00pm

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