Weekly Insight: Local Churches Reopening Their Doors

Weekly Insight: Local Churches Reopening Their Doors

Last weekend, I had a chance to visit a friend who lives on a local river. After a beautiful summer Saturday on the water, my wife and I returned home Sunday morning. Driving on a two-lane country road for an hour, it was a wonderful to see four different country churches beginning to hold service again. One church had their own lawn chairs set up outside under a shade tree for outdoor worship, the other three had their front doors open. At each church, I happened to see parishioners exiting their cars to join the service – everybody wearing a mask and waving hello (no hugs that I could see).   

I thought about the impact of COVID-19 on these local congregations in the countryside. Many do not have the resources to video or livestream their service. Connections were maintained through the strong local and family ties that form the fabric of the church. Urban solutions that center around high-speed internet connectivity do not work as well in a rural setting with lower-speed connectivity. Suburban neighborhood walking enables seeing neighbors in a casual setting, but is much more difficult when people live far apart. The pull to come back together in person is much stronger in the rural settings these community churches serve.    

With a small congregation and ample space, thankfully the local community church in the countryside can reopen their physical doors again in a safe manner. Connections are restored, and the community continues to thrive and support each other. Driving through the countryside unexpectedly allowed me to witness this return to worship and was a great reminder about the power of the personal, physical connection between people.   

Technology can never supplant the power of personal, physical connection. Good technology (if available) can help bridge temporary separations.  Great technology can help augment the personal connections – enabling the bridge when separated, and greatly enhancing the connections when made.   As churches begin to reopen their buildings in a healthy manner, blending technology into the experience will enhance the power of the church for all.      

– Tom 

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