Responses about the future of in person meetings

Tim Stephenson,

If you are visiting today, we're thrilled to have you with us. We come here to worship God by singing, preaching the Bible and praying together. God is the highest priority in our lives because through Jesus we have forgiveness from our sins and the hope of a new life spent with Him!

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Thank you to all who have completed our survey over the summer. As the Baptist Union warned us people have differing views based on their situations and experience as well as their perception of their own risk and those near to them. No question resulted in a clear consensus, which I believe indicates we need to pursue a range of options. I’m conscious we must not turn church into a consumer product but supporting a range of situations probably needs a range of options.

The first headline is that many people are not yet ready to return to in person meetings but a significant minority (about a third) are ready right now (or even back in July).

38% say they are ready to return to church right now.

The greatest majority came in response to whether we should wait for a vaccine before returning to meeting in person. Just 20% thought “Yes, we should wait”. However, this should be read in the context of the majority also responding “Not yet”.

80% of respondents thought we should wait for a vaccine before returning to church.

To my surprise, the majority did not see going without sung worship as a show-stopper, but around a third did.

65% would attend a service even without being able to have sung worship.

I think the question about how to deal with limiting people in the building – rationing that space if you like – was tricky to answer with a Yes or No but I think this response sums up what others were also saying:

I would like to see the plans for church pre-vaccine focus on those who are most struggling/lonely/vulnerable and I’m not part of that group, so if only 20 people could come to church I would feel comfortable doing so but I probably wouldn’t come, because others would benefit more from the physical presence in church.

Probably it is not surprising that smaller groups have more support than full services.

75% would be ready to attend small groups such as prayer meetings or Bible studies.

And finally, a good number of people see this as an opportunity to ‘do church’ differently. Of course it does not mean all these people share a common vision of what to do differently but a common theme supported continuing the online services. For example:

We feel that streaming is likely to be the only effective way of maintaining effective corporate teaching for some while to come.

I think it will be important to continue church both in the building and online.

We have managed to utilise technology in a way completely new to church and it would be right to assess what could form part of our ministry going forward.

Now that the holiday peak is past, Oversight will be getting to work this week on how to best respond and I know Eddie is keen to share some concrete plans as soon as possible. More details soon.

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