COVID has changed the church in many ways.
However, one of the sharpest splinters COVID has stuck in the toe of the church is a threat to its own financial well-being. Of course, the church will never fail to exist because it is a creation by God. But a church’s financial well-being directly correlates with the amount of ministry opportunity a church can create.
Without money …
- missionaries are not sent;
- outreach ministries are not funded;
- food pantries are not stocked;
- monthly expenses aren’t covered;
- Christian education begins to suffer; and
- churches close their doors
However, due to the recent rapid evolution of church tech, churches have a way to connect with the hearts of those who have the resources to give and stay afloat during the most uncertain of times.
Here are some insights we learned from serving nearly 30,000 churches during COVID-19 and their giving.
1. The number of churches that used digital giving software increased
The church across the globe was forced to depend heavily on digital giving software to remain financially solvent beginning with government shutdowns in March.
While this transition would have happened within the next 10 years under normal conditions, the pandemic lockdown expedited the church’s technological adoption by a full decade. Churches especially who might not have considered digital giving solutions previously—traditional and older churches—were those who then needed to use them most. There was no demographic exempt from the need to transition to the most technologically advanced and affordable giving solution available.
2. Increased church membership buy-in to use the software
Not only did more churches begin using digital giving software during COVID. But a higher percentage of church members gave through the church’s digital giving software. This indicates a radical advancement not only in congregational buy-in, but a level of digital engagement necessary to be in contact with church which has never been so high.
The convenience of digital giving, which would have inevitably become a best practice for new church plants and trickled into the mainstream church world as an industry standard, all of a sudden became an obligation which reinforced safe practices. It was the tool which carried churches forward not only with giving, but with engagement as church giving companies like Tithe.ly integrate their giving function right into the Tithe.ly Church App, which has messaging and small group features.
3. Streamed church services expanded tithing capacity to the entire globe
While tithing was once a local practice, many churches have transitioned from being local institutions with digital presences to digital institutions with local presences. Since this is the case, many pastors have found themselves in the position of pastoring congregations across the entire globe, many of whom give regularly to the church.
How could such a situation not cause a seismic shift in the very nature of the pastoral role? What is the scope of the church leader’s call? To what degree does their locality delimit their obligation? What if 1,000 new YouTube viewers want to become members at his church?
Where financial opportunity escalates, so does the need for scalable systems. Many pastors are now forming ministry partnerships across denominational and institutional lines to serve common causes around the globe.
4. Lack of connection created a shift in church membership landscapes
It is currently common for members to search out new church experiences while COVID has required churches to refrain congregations from gathering.
This has caused many churches to receive tens of thousands of new viewers, and others to operate at only 20–30% more engagement.
Where any of these ecclesiological sojourners may end up after the pandemic is anybody’s guess. But the chance that all of the lines fall back in the same place is slim.
Over to you
The world will never be the same after COVID.
We can say the same about the church. But one thing we can also say is that the church has found a way to partner with church tech companies to stay afloat, to advance the pace of the church’s modernization by 10 years, and to continue the work of the kingdom to which God has called them with even more opportunity for ministry than ever.