Churches manage to keep funding steady during pandemic
Local churches are now recovering from the pandemic as people slowly return to the sanctuary rather than watching from home. Although services were in an empty sanctuary, funds stayed steady and helped local poor.
CrossBridge Church, with a campus in Pinecrest, Brickell, Key Biscayne, Miami Springs and Homestead, did not have a startling adjustment in online worship. “Our church was already positioned to go online. We were already live streaming. So the thing for us is how can we serve the city?” said Carter Brown, lead pastor at CrossBridge Church. Tithing stayed steady during the pandemic, and the church turned to give the money to the community.
“The pandemic actually accelerated a vision we had for funds,” Rev. Brown said. “We set the vision to be a 50/50 church in five years. So 50% of everything given to the church goes back to the city.”
CrossBridge saw positive results from all online worship during the pandemic because it made the members want to serve the city, stated Rev. Brown. “Locally, we ran a food distribution service that fed up to 17,000 families during Covid.”
While some churches dealt with the chaos of online worship negatively, and are now concerned that the congregation numbers will dwindle, CrossBridge views it positively.
“People understand they can worship online. They were forced to about six months ago, and while they value worshipping in person, they also understand the validity of worshipping online,” Rev. Brown said. Church is going to be hybrid in the future, according to CrossBridge.
“One thing that’s really exciting is that for most churches, Easter 2020 was the highest attended service that they had ever had. More than 2019. The ease was there,” Rev. Brown said.
“The 2020 Easter Service was actually the most attended we’ve seen,” said Al Bunis, senior pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Coconut Grove. Plymouth had to learn to use technology quickly when the pandemic began.
“Our campus is beautiful and loved by the congregation, so we videoed the service on different parts of the campus and posted it. Only the sermon was from the pulpit,” Rev. Bunis said.
Plymouth began gradually opening for physical worship again at the end of September with pre-service registration for the covid head count, masks and distancing.
“We’ve stopped requesting that people sign up to physically come to church and are still in spaced seating. But we’ve had about one-third of the congregation return. People enjoy staying home to watch in their pjs,” Rev. Bunis said.
“We are not 100% back to normal but going again in earnest,” he said. The congregation is usually 250, but right now about 100 are watching online.
Plymouth is a popular wedding venue, so when weddings were canceled and postponed, some money was lost, according to Rev. Bunins.
Benevolence has remained solid at Plymouth as well, despite video worship. “Our outreach and mission board has been really strong during the pandemic,” Rev. Bunis said. “Our giving with the homeless Miami Rescue Mission has been really solid.”
While churches are reacting differently to online services, some embracing how hybrid worship is the future of the church and others more traditional wanting people in the pews, giving remained steady during covid, according to both Rev. Brown and Rev. Bunis.
The pandemic helped congregations give money and services to the local, hurting community.