Part 4: In this Holy Week, is our worship changing?
Last October, a pastor of a church in Indian Wells that my wife and I occasionally attend said, “We were late to putting our services online, as we were afraid that it would reduce the weekly attendance.”
What a difference six months can make.
After the first full week of stay-at-home orders, this same church reported an increase of church “attendance,” albeit 100% online. Instead of the average 4,300 weekly attendees, the first full online weekend of this church’s services had over 6,600 viewers.
Many businesses and organizations have had to do things differently during this challenging time.
One business sector, restaurants, have battled to keep some aspect of service. Many of our favorite restaurants are trying to simply survive and retain employees, making food to-go and trying things like home delivery for the first time.
And some restaurants have even tried new things, beyond menu items to-go.
I suggested to one restaurateur that, with their traditional menu entrees, they should consider selling uncooked meals or even packaged dinners to be made at home, like Morton’s Steakhouse in Anaheim and the Capital Grille in Costa Mesa are doing with “Steak Kits” filled with cryo-vac sealed steaks for grilling on your own barbecue.
He downplayed it and said, “I think we need to stick in our lane.”
But lane lines are blurring through this virus fall out. Just days after this discussion, this restaurateur added various food and home products that could be purchased and picked up when patrons picked up their dinners.
Some new ways of doing things are improving the way we reach customers and should continue, even after ‘normalcy’ returns. The Coronavirus has forced us all to consider new ways of running our businesses or managing our organizations – many for the better.
During this Holy Week for those of Christian faith, many churches may be entering new lanes to better serve their congregations.
This past Sunday, my wife and I listened and watched three different church services online — the church we visit in Indian Wells, our home church in Anaheim Hills, and a church with an Irvine pastor that we recently saw at a conference.
Sure, not all experiences can be replicated online. But these unusual times may be teaching us that in many respects, instead of limiting us, online experiences can expand our opportunities – for restaurants to gain new customers, for churches to reach wider audiences, and even connect more to people to their faith. That is something to celebrate, even if online, this Easter Sunday.