Sky Links, 3-21-20

What Will the Post-Coronavirus Church Look Like?

-Thom S. Rainer

Here are eight likely developments:
  1. Non-digital giving will become an outlier. Fewer people will want to handle the offering plates or buckets. Fewer people will touch cash. Watch for a dramatic decrease in non-digital giving. Make certain you are moving your church to digital giving. Your church should be receiving 60% of gifts digitally right now. That number must grow. Have someone in your church who can help the digitally challenged to set up online giving for them personally.
  2. Smaller worship services will become normal. We were already seeing a trend of churches moving to smaller worship gatherings, even if the church was growing. We anticipate many larger churches will attempt to have services capped around 250 to 300. Smaller churches will, of course, have even smaller gatherings. A 200 attendance church, for example, may move toward two services post coronavirus.
  3. The 80% rule will become the 60% rule for worship gatherings. The 80% rule said that a worship center with a capacity of 200 feels full at 160 (80%). The 60% rule says the congregation will want more social distancing, and thus the 200 capacity worship center will reach its social distancing capacity at 120.
  4. The negative economic impact on churches could have long-lasting effects. Church leaders should begin discussions of “what if?” What if our giving was cut by 30% for the next few years? What adjustments would we make?
  5. Social distancing will change permanently some of the traditions in many churches. Stand and greet is gone and will not return in most churches. Church huggers will no longer be tolerated. Even handshakes will be minimized.
  6. The death rate of churches will worsen. Many churches are barely hanging on. These churches will not survive the consequences of the coronavirus. The death rate of churches will thus increase significantly. These deaths can be mitigated, however, with an intentional focus on church adoption and church fostering.
  7. Church adoption and fostering will increase significantly. I addressed this issue in my March 16, 2020 post. Church adoption takes place when a healthier church brings the people and assets of a struggling church into its church family. The adopted church becomes a campus of the adopting church. Church fostering is the process where a healthier church provides assistance and resources to a struggling church for a defined period, typically less than a year. Church fostering may or may not lead to church adoption.
  8. Churches will rapidly adopt more virtual practices. Many churches have resisted the migration into the virtual world, but the coronavirus has taken many congregations into a quick immersion into the digital age. The initial forays have been to move into digital giving more fully and to stream some form of worship services. But coronavirus is the tipping point of much more to come in the digital world. Indeed, this change may be the most profound of all the changes churches will face after the coronavirus is no longer considered pandemic.

7 dimensions to an Online Church Community model
-Benjamin Windle

So, how do we help people transition emotionally from normal weekend services, to an online community? I have put together a 7-dimensional approach to being an Online Church Community will help you to reinvent your church model in the midst of the global pandemic:

  1. Live stream the Sunday service on multiple platforms. Facebook, Instagram, and are free. A good, paid option is: 
  2. Nominate an Online Pastor. They can be a volunteer or a staff member. They will host the online chat and engagement. 
  3. Create a simple webpage that lists all of your online expressions (live streaming, giving, etc.). We created a new, no-frills homepage that makes our online model first and central. 
  4. Start a ‘Wednesdays at Home’ live devotional from the Pastor’s house. To see an example of this, please go to my Facebook Page to see what I do. It’s a different message and concept to a Sunday service, and adds new value to the online model. 
  5. Emphasize small groups and live ‘watch parties’. If governments allow small gatherings at home, micro-communities can gather to watch the Sunday service live and pray for one another. 
  6. Have a daily, live online ministry time on social media that includes things like prayer, communion, and scripture reading. 
  7. Move as much financial giving to automated online options by speaking openly and candidly to the church.

Not being able to host large gatherings may force us to relook at the Acts church and rediscover the importance and joy of grassroots ministry, caring for our local community, and relying on the Holy Spirit each day. We have become used to crowds – it is time to rediscover the infinite value of the individual.
We need to find innovative new ways to add extra value that didn’t exist previously. My suggestions are really just conversation starters. A totally separate article could be written about how the church has a unique opportunity to serve those in need outside the church during this time. I think there are more qualified people to write that piece than myself.

We need to adjust our Sunday service to keep in mind how it will be experienced online.

Consider the following practical suggestions for online ministry:
  •  Shorten services. Attention spans are lower when it comes to videos (1-hour total).  
  • Camera engagement – emcees, worship leaders, and preachers should regularly make eye contact with the camera and specifically address their online viewers.  
  • Live video – thoughtful, authentic content over studio production quality. Don’t just repost cut up content of the Sunday preaching. We need to provide a variety of online LIVE offerings each week, in order to enable the church to keep the same momentum. Think of daily opportunities to go live, and exponentially ramp up the number of live videos.  
  • Blank page what you do on social media. In many ways, we need to scrap most of how we have used social media for churches, which is not a bad thing. I think we were all growing a little fatigued of curated photos of stage production and preaching. We now need to use social media for genuine ministry, not just highlight snippets. I’m talking raw, basic, down-to-earth times of devotion, scripture reading, prayer, communion, and so forth.   
  • If you can’t live stream from a church building, do it from home on a smart phone using Facebook Live.

Sidney Powell: How to Fix Justice
-Hillsdale College

Sidney Powell has practiced law for many years, primarily in the fifth U.S. circuit court of appeals. 

Evidence over hysteria — COVID-19
-Aaron Ginn

Some excerpts:

After watching the outbreak of COVID-19 for the past two months, I’ve followed the pace of the infection, its severity, and how our world is tackling the virus. While we should be concerned and diligent, the situation has dramatically elevated to a mob-like fear spreading faster than COVID-19 itself. When 13% of Americans believe they are currently infected with COVID-19 (mathematically impossible), full-on panic is blocking our ability to think clearly and determine how to deploy our resources to stop this virus. Over three-fourths of Americans are scared of what we are doing to our society through law and hysteria, not of infection or spreading COVID-19 to those most vulnerable.
Local governments and politicians are inflicting massive harm and disruption with little evidence to support their draconian edicts. Every local government is in a mimetic race to one-up each other in authoritarian city ordinances to show us who has more “abundance of caution”. Politicians are competing, not on more evidence or more COVID-19 cures but more caution. As unemployment rises and families feel unbearably burdened already, they feel pressure to “fix” the situation they created with even more radical and “creative” policy solutions. This only creates more problems and an even larger snowball effect. The first place to start is to stop killing the patient and focus on what works.
Rampant hoarding and a volatile stock market aren’t being driven by COVID-19. An overwhelming majority of American’s don’t believe they will be infected. Rather, hoarding behavior strongly demonstrates an irrational hysteria, from purchasing infective household masks to buying toilet paper in the troves. This fear is being driven by government action, fearing what the government will do next. In South Korea, most citizens didn’t fear infection but the government and public shaming. By presenting a consistent and clear plan that is targeted and specific to those who need the most help will reduce the volatility and hysteria. A sign the logic behind these government actions aren’t widely accepted, nor believed as rational by the American people is the existence itself of the volatility and hysteria. Over three-fourths of Americans are scared not of COVID-19 but what it is doing to our society.
COVID-19 is a significant medical threat that needs to be tackled by both finding a cure and limiting spread; however, some would argue that a country’s authoritarian response to COVID-19 helped stop the spread. Probably not. In South Korea and Taiwan, I can go to the gym and eat at a restaurant which is more than I can say about San Francisco and New York, despite a significantly lower caseload on a per-capita basis.
None of the countries the global health authorities admire for their approach issued “shelter-in-place” orders, rather they used data, measurement,and promoted common sense self-hygiene.
Does stopping air travel have a greater impact than closing all restaurants? Does closing schools reduce the infection rate by 10%? Not one policymaker has offered evidence of any of these approaches. Typically, the argument given is “out of an abundance of caution”. I didn’t know there was such a law. Let’s be frank, these acts are emotionally driven by fear, not evidence-based thinking in the process of destroying people’s lives overnight. While all of these decisions are made by elites isolated in their castles of power and ego, the shock is utterly devastating Main Street.
A friend who runs a gym will run out of cash in two weeks. A friend who is a pastor let go of half of his staff as donations fell by 60%. A waitress at my favorite breakfast place told me her family will have no income in a few days as they force the closure of restaurants. While political elites twiddle their thumbs with models and projections based on faulty assumptions, people’s lives are being destroyed with Marxian vigor. The best compromise elites can come up with is $2,000.

Why Italy?
-Tracy Beanz

Italy has been ravaged by the Wuhan Coronavirus, but the reasons why are linked more closely to globalism than the age of the infected.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants now live both legally and illegally in Italy, with 300K legally registered and many more illegal.
  • Italy recently entered into a new economic partnership with China called “One belt, One road”
  • China has revitalized northern Italian ports in order to transport goods more efficiently to the rest of Europe
  • The mayor of Florence initiated a social media campaign called “Hug a Chinese” using Chinese produced video as an engine to dispel the “racism” against the Chinese in Italy
 Thirty years ago, Italy saw the beginnings of what would become a serious issue with illegal immigration. What was surprising, was that the immigrants couldn’t just walk over a border to enter the country, they had to flock from China. It began with Italians hiring the Chinese off the books at cheap wages to work making garments in towns and villages renowned for their craftmanship, and morphed into Italians seeing the Chinese learn how to do it faster and cheaper; often times watching as their family owned businesses were shuttered because they were outbid. The Chinese took over the Italian craft and made it their own. What didn’t change was the coveted “Made in Italy” label. 

Why No One Trusts the Mainstream Media

Needed: the reopening plan. Fast.
-John Cochrane

A trillion bucks is a lot of money. The costs of shutting down the economy are larger. California's GDP is essentially zero at the moment. US GDP was about $22 trillion per year before the virus hit, almost $2 trillion per month.
Shutting everything down and staying home for a few weeks is a sledgehammer. OK, our leaders have to hit a virus with a sledgehammer when they have nothing else up their sleeve. But it cannot last. Businesses will close, people will lose jobs, the economy will not be there to start up again.
Needed fast: a plan to open up the economy again in a virus-safe way.