Life, as we all know it, has changed within this last year. Businesses, for example, are still dealing with these impacts. The church is no exception. However, when the institution is not in the business of making money, but rather helping people, this becomes a different conversation altogether.
The church has always served as a place of worship, fellowship, support, and growth. These things can be appealing to oneself even if you're not a believer. Especially in times such as this, when guidance is in high demand.
Many church leaders, pastors, and attendees have expressed a longing for the way church used to be, singing, dancing, comforting one another.
However, the church recognizes the need to follow the health restrictions to ensure maximum safety. For that reason, you could say the church has had to evolve.
Mike Poettcker, Interim Lead Pastor of Cochrane Alliance Church says, he has seen a technological wave at the forefront for many institutions. Nevertheless, the Cochrane Alliance Church was ahead of the curve in this way, by posting online sermons for over five years now. The pandemic for them has just solidified its importance.
"In that regard, we already had a lot of the infrastructure and processes set up that enabled us to pivot and go exclusively online," says Poettcker. "and we have the means to do it efficiently."
In a similar vein of innovations, Bow Valley Baptist Church has made some new strides in these times as well. Cherie Barnes, business owner and volunteer of the church, says the church still believes in outreach whenever possible to support their church families' new needs.
"One of the ways we do this is through contacting all of our families using a phone crew," says Barnes." We didn't have to do that in recent years. We are reaching out and making sure that people are comfortable, and trying to be intentional in the process."
Barnes says the process has taken time to organize, but the results are well worth it.
On the other hand, there are people such as Adelia Palm who miss the in-person environment and feel that it is not the same.
"It seems you can't engage. In a church setting, you want to embrace each other. Give each other a hug or lay hands on them to pray," says Palm." These things typically require physical contact, and you can't do that now."
Palm says though she is getting older. She looks forward to the church returning to its roots in the near future.
One thing remains clear. Strong institutions such as the Church have remained intact, even amongst great uncertainty, due to their compassion and drive for people's health and prosperity. Which in turn has caused the church to become stronger in the process and more resilient.