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New Research: Most Churches Cautiously Holding Services Again

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Churches are gathering again, but services and programs remain drastically different from the beginning of the year.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Churches are gathering again, but services and programs remain drastically different from the beginning of the year.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to previous surveys from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, Protestant churches across the U.S. stopped gathering in-person in a matter of weeks.

The latest LifeWay Research survey of Protestant pastors found congregations have slowly and cautiously started to meet again.

“While more and more churches have resumed in-person worship services, it has not always been a straight path back,” said Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research. “Some have had difficulty resuming or had to stop meeting again as things got worse in their area.”

Cautious regathering

Each Sunday in April, fewer than 1 in 10 Protestant churches held in-person services. Starting in May, those numbers began to climb. By the first weekend in June, a majority (55%) were gathering. In July, more than 7 in 10 have met physically.

Still, 21% of Protestant pastors say they have not met in person the past three months.

Around 1 in 5 churches (21%) offered drive-in services where attendees participated from their vehicles at some point during the pandemic.

For those churches choosing to meet physically indoors, 99% point to some type of health and safety precaution they are taking.

More than 3 in 4 pastors say they provided hand sanitizer, masks or gloves to those needing it (94%), conducted additional cleaning of surfaces (86%), or closed seats to increase distance between people (76%).

Most have recommended masks (59%), but only around a third (35%) have required attendees to wear them.

Around 1 in 5 have added services (21%) or additional viewing rooms (18%) …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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