Fri | Dec 3, 2021

COVID changes and the Church

Published:Friday | March 26, 2021 | 12:15 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston - Gleaner Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Christians to adapt to a new way of worship. The Church has had to become more flexible in how it conducts its weekly services.

For some churches, though, it was not a big deal to transfer from in-person worship to the social media platforms, as they were already streaming their services via those channels.

However, for many, it was comfortable to gather in church, singing, praising, interacting and enjoying sweet fellowship. With the onset of the pandemic, it felt strange going to church, masking up, knocking elbows instead of embracing. Having church while keeping the safety protocols has no doubt robbed fellowship of the spontaneity that Christians are accustomed to.

Rev Dr Zebulah Aiken of the Miracle Tabernacle Free Town Church of God of Prophecy told Family and Religion that for her, although the pandemic has seen some drastic changes affecting the entire Christendom, which see some struggling to cope with the new normal, for her it has brought in its wake some good benefits.

One such positive change that she is now enjoying is the increased attendance at Bible studies, which are conducted on Wednesday evenings via Zoom. She said that prior to the pandemic, on its best night there would be only about 12 members at Bible studies, and she had to drive a few miles to get to church.

IMPROVED TURNOUT

Now, since the restrictions have been in place, and the studies moved to the Zoom platform, she is enjoying the improved turnout.

“We are seeing members who migrated and are now living overseas logging in for the session. We have participation from England, Canada, the Caribbean, the United States, and even persons who are not members of the church logging in to enjoy the studies,” she said. Aiken added that it has now seen her rethinking the rules of engagement when things return to normality.

She said that churches, on a whole, will now have to do some re-evaluation as observations are made regarding some of the positive spin-off from the flexibility and changes that were applied in dealing with keeping safe while conducting services.

Another positive for Aiken is that churches are doing more social outreaches as a result of the needs brought on by the pandemic.

“You find that you are not only ministering to members, but others who are in need; so now they are more attentive to the gospel. Not that we weren’t doing it before, but now I think it is more meaningful to them,” shared Aiken, who said she has been receiving some positive feedbacks from unsaved persons who are now seeing the Church in a different light.

The COVID-19 pandemic, said Aiken, has definitely opened up a whole new world where being digitally connected is concerned. And that means the Church will now have to invest in educating and training team leaders to operate on this platform.

“One thing is for certain, sharing the gospel will never be the same again. The pandemic will end and when it does, for many churches the lessons learnt from it will live on forever, and we will use them to further the growth of the Church,” Aiken pointed out.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com