Many Christians are praying more during coronavirus pandemic


Many Christians are praying more as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, new research by Barna has found.

The study found that nearly half (48%) of US Christians are praying more than usual during the pandemic, while nearly one in five (17%) say they are reading their Bible more than usual.

Barna also found that non-Christians have been seeking out spiritual help during the pandemic, with 16% of those of a different faith and 2% of those with no faith saying they had tuned in to an online message.

According to the study, 12% of those with a different faith said they had started praying during the pandemic and that this was something they did not do regularly prior to the outbreak.

A fifth of all those surveyed by Barna admitted to feeling lonely at least once in the past week, while another 20 per cent said it was something they felt at least some point every day, while one in 10 (11%) said they felt this all of the time.

In a webcast to launch the findings, John Mark Comer, pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon, opened about his own need to adjust during the pandemic.

"I face a daily urge to overact in an attempt to save our church from perceived doom," he said.

"For me, not meeting on Sundays or not rushing out and filling the void is really the greatest act of trust in God.

"When I can really trust [him], I can accept the reality of winter and not fight it but make peace with it and even find a deep joy and contentment within it."

Bobby Gruenewald, Pastor and Innovation Leader at Life.Church in Oklahoma, said that one of the positive things to emerge from the pandemic was the emphasis on Church being the people and not the building.

"People say those words a lot of times, but until you're forced into this reality, I don't think people fully comprehend that," he said.

"I see pastors really embracing this notion that this is not our building anymore, it's really about the flock, the community and the people that are there."

Skye Jethani, co-host of the Holy Post Podcast, encouraged churches to make use of digital technology to better understand their congregations, "what they're actually doing and what they need."

"Really good digital innovation is using these tools in a way that assists rather than replaces incarnate ministry," he said.

With many churches forced to move services and Bible studies online, Nona Jones, head of faith-based partnerships at Facebook, said pastors should be thinking about their answer to the question: "How do people know that I see them?"

She suggested some simple things pastors could do to make the personal connection with people across digital platforms, like "responding to [people's] questions, commenting or tagging them in conversations, welcoming them by name when going live".

"Doing those kinds of things [shows] that even though we're on a platform, we are still connecting in a meaningful way," she said.