Update: I have added another post from Brian Zahnd that Scott Lencke refers to in the comments.
There have been a few interesting posts circulating in the ether over the past week.
First up to the plate was Carey Nieuwhof last Monday with his astonishing post that nearly half of American churches were experiencing church growth through their virtual services over the past month.
For those not familiar with Nieuwhof, he is a Canadian church growth specialist who has a large internet presence. Here is some of what he had to say. The points below are what he encouraged his readers to re-tweet:
- Half of all churches, regardless of church size—from very small churches (under 100) to megachurches—are experiencing growth during the pandemic. It’s remarkable that this is true if you have 75 people attending, 750 or 7500.
- Church leaders need to realize (fast) that the people joining you online are not just your people, they’re new people. Curious people. Unchurched people. Lapsed Christians. Atheists. Agnostics.
- Instead of seeing online church as an obstacle, many church leaders are realizing it’s an unprecedented opportunity. The people you prayed would show up are showing up, just not how you expected.
- In 2020, life slips between the digital and the physical, and then physical slips back into digital. We all live there. So will the future church.
- In the future, the church will meet any time, anywhere, and sometimes meet in person.
- Online church transcends geographic, physical and time barriers in a way that physical church simply can’t.
- Here’s the reality of life on the internet: you can reach thousands or millions of people using the phone in your pocket for almost zero additional dollars.
- Digital may seem intimidating and expensive, but it’s far cheaper and easier than most church leaders think. Just ask any 14-year-old YouTuber.
Most of what Nieuwhof says rings true. My parents little country church had 170 viewing of their Easter Sunday service, some of these views represented more than one set of eyes, and that was much higher than they would normally get at an Easter Service. I attend an Anabaptist megachurch, where we use movie theaters to typically see the previous Sunday’s sermon our Easter Sunday sermon views have topped the 10,000 mark, with yesterday’s sermon viewed by about 60 percent of that. The little country church had a similar drop off in numbers.
But while it rings true, not all are convinced it is a good thing.
Author and speaker Mike Frost is worried that the “Coronavirus could set back the church 25 years.” Mike has a very different viewpoint to Carey Nieuwhof:
My grave fear is that this spike in online attendance will be as illusory as the growth of megachurches last century. It will serve to mask the reality that less and less people are devoted to a wholehearted commitment to Christ, and more and more people see church as an event, a shot in the arm, a convenient uplift that doesn’t challenge their everyday life in any way.
There’s an old marketing saying that goes, “What you win them with, you win them to.”
If you’re winning people to a ten or fifteen minute viewing of a prepackaged worship and teaching experience, devoid of community, mission, correction, reconciliation or justice, you’re not growing the church. You’re fostering religious consumers.
And while I am not trying to do a cop-out, I think that Frost makes some good points too.
Internet Monk friend and occasional writer Scott Lencke, picked up on both of articles on Wednesday, in a well thought out article he commented:
I don’t believe a whole new swath of people suddenly think that the church may have the answers to what they are experiencing. Some, yes. But not as a whole.
What I think the massive upswing in attendance is primarily about is easy access. Church in our pj’s, disheveled hair, and morning breath is so much easier than getting a family of five out of bed, fed, cleaned, dressed, out the door, and to the building within a certain time frame. I know. Been there, done that. Will do that post-pandemic. If we were able to be transported to our church’s gathering with a wave of a wand, having also been properly freshened and dressed, I imagine attendance would have risen a while ago.
…I’d postulate that if live streaming continues for all churches for years to come, those “attendance” numbers would flatten out, if not dip like they were falling pre-Coronavirus. Again, many want a product and if the product has lost its luster, we become disinterested.
It was Scott’s last paragraph that really caught my attention:
In all, as we all continue through this very challenging pandemic, may the Spirit be very real in leading our leaders and the church as a whole. Yet, even more, as we come out of this on the other side, whether in the summer or later in the year, may the Spirit’s voice be equally clearer, if not more. We need wise discernment in these days.
Before responding to Scott’s final comment here, I wanted to draw your attention one last post. On Saturday, Ken Braddy, of Lifeway Christian Resources had a post entitled “24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return.” In his post he discussed things like finances, passing of the offering plate, coffee time, volunteer staffing, children’s church, greeters at the door, size of gathering, etc. All very practical stuff.
How different his post sounded from Scott’s last paragraph! What is the Spirit calling us to do?
Over this last month I have been struck with how many seniors have been left lonely and abandoned. This was not something new. It is just that CoVid-19 drew our attention to just how bad it was.
I also have thought of prisoners, restrained to their cells and fearing for their lives. For most, their crimes do not deserve life sentences, yet that is what a number will be facing.
I think of the need for counselors to assist those who will have PTSD as a result of this.
I think of the desire to keep in closer touch with loved ones. I visited my parents a month ago. I knew then that I might not get to visit them again for a long time.
I think of friends who have had a parent die and aren’t able to hold a funeral.
I think of building relationships with neighbours as we help each other through very difficult times.
I think of those who have lost jobs and risk losing homes.
What is the Spirit saying to us the church in all of this? Where is the church in all of this? How is the church going to respond? How should the church respond?
What do you think? I would encourage you to read the linked articles. None of them are long. Then come back and give us your thoughts and comments.
As always they are very welcome.
P.S. Here is another post that you might want to consider. On Thursday Brian Zahnd wrote:
Don’t let a pandemic turn you into a gnostic.
To prefer digital over enfleshed is a gnostic move; it’s a move away from what it means to be human; it’s an insult to the Incarnation. Gnosticism — the first and most persistent Christian heresy — is a complex set of dualisms, but at its core Gnosticism believes that the telos of salvation is a pure spiritual (virtual?) existence. Gnostic salvation is to be relieved from the burden of having to live in a material world. It’s the Gnostic, not the orthodox Christian, who will say, “this world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” The Gnostic, not the orthodox Christian, wants to escape this world and fly off to the Platonic heaven of the perfect forms. Christianity, on the other hand, says something very different.
God created an actual world, not a virtual world. And God declares that the actual world of creation is very good. God wants Adam and Eve (humanity) to live in his good world, not just watch it on a screen. The redemption of the world is found in the mystery that the Word became flesh, not computer code. The blessed hope of the Christian faith is resurrection and the restoration of all things, not an escape to a non-temporal, non-corporal spiritual (virtual?) afterlife.
79 thoughts on “CoVid-19 and the future of Church”
Actually Dan, I would say that the printing press greatly increased the *noise* in Christianity–much as its distant successor the internet has.
“Repent of your sins and turn towards Me.”
Seneca, I take that as your interpretation, not a direct quote.
Anonymous, why not come out from behind your cloaking device and at least identify as Someone instead of some thing?
‘Godwin’ is a family name . . . doesn’t it figure
I don’t think much will change. Church attendance spiked after 9/11 as well, but mostly it didn’t last. People always seek some kind of comfort in a crisis.
And even if a few new folks do show up in person after this is all over, American evangelicalism is particularly ill-suited to provide an experience of genuine connection and faith that has depth and meaning.
I think the spirit is mostly saying love your neighbors. Right now for most of us that means keeping our distance but at the same time helping those in need and those who are sick. Other than the precautions, the essence of it all hasn’t changed.
the VA is in trouble now as reports are coming out that protocols to protect all concerned are being ‘relaxed’
Caveat: I’m in favor of the gradual reopening of the economy etc……after we get over the crest, which we haven’t, even as defined by the White House last week. Until then, lock down should continue.
I don’t anticipate getting through this pandemic crisis without having to experience it firsthand in our household, where it is likely to be deadly, so it does frighten me. I’m in favor of a gradual reopening of the economy, in tandem with plenty of testing and tracking, and whatever social/behavioral modifications may be necessary in the short and medium-terms to make the curve as flat as possible as the virus inevitably permeates every corner of our world. I’m okay with some long term changes too — for instance I will never shake hands again or receive communion from a common cup — but I essentially agree that only so much can or should be done, and that too much radical change will likely be as destructive and deadly as the virus itself.
reality hasn’t set in yet, Adam . . . . wait until we try to put the pieces back together again
then, we will find out what can be salvaged and what is lost to us
they say 90 % of all real communication is NON-VERBAL
so we miss much by not being physically in the presence of one another
but in the Kingdom of Our Lord, it is not impossible to hear in the silence . . . ‘only in silence, the Word’
did not hypocrisy drive many faithful from ‘churches’?
it’s not God they are worship by doing this, no way
how many of us have gathered with friends at table for lunch in a restaurant and it grows silent as each person is reading their own messages?
there is a silence in community,
and a community in silence
we are become an interior people who don’t want to be alone
It does not frighten me all that much – it will pass – in not really all that much time.
I’m more frightened of the people who will cling to the fear; and use it as an excuse to try to reshape the day-to-day world in the lite of a temporary once-in-a-hundred-years event. That would be extremely foolish – and expensive.
which is why when we see history repeating itself,
it is good to be able to recognize the red lights going off . . .
these days? please
I doubt they value human life at all. 🙂
That’s one of the things that’s so frightening about the phenomenon of COVID-19 — the way it isolates people from physical and relational presence, from “friction”, as you describe it.
I wonder about the durability of a wholly, or even largely, e-church.
If one’s incarnate relationships do not correspond to the church how will it develop to be more of a curiosity?
The best memories – and relationships – I remember from my deep-in-church years were frictional. They wouldn’t have happened without being bound to place.
It is relationships, far more than ideas, that moor us to our ‘values’.
I met some of my most important relationships in those years. Someone who is still one of my best friends as well as the young lady I married. Knowing myself, and that story, I would have – and to a degree did – dismissed both of those people into the too-unlike-me category. It was the friction of mutual endevour, and all the little odds-and-ends experiences one has only in the incarnate world – like waiting in line at night at the neighborhood burger stand – which allowed those relationships to take root.
Now, decades removed, and with the some experience in Community Organizing, and politics, I believe that those incarnate relationships, especially the unlikely ones, are the essence of a community. Mere “content” or “dialog” are limp substitutes.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Any idea which is never there with you, at night, at the neighborhood burger stand, will inevitably be forgotten.
Get thee behind me, Godwin!
But what does the Department of the Treasury say?
Thanks for the link. Good article, and so is yours about your sadness. Regarding not letting the pandemic turn me into a Gnostic: My natural religious tendency has always been toward Gnosticism, so I can’t blame the pandemic for making me a Gnostic. But I need and have always needed the Church to call me out of Gnosticism and into the Body of Christ, into my own body and the wholeness of being. In a time like the one we’re going through, it is very hard for the Church to do that. My Gnostic tendencies are rising to the top, and I’m afraid there’s just not that much I or the Church can do about, given the situation.
Resist the temptation!
$9.6M according to the Department of Transportation.
Thanks Scott! I have added an excerpt from the link into the body of the past.
Mike, did you also see this post from Brian Zahnd? A little bit of a different angle, but one I appreciated as well.
At least a few were until a few days ago. See this link for an example.
Robert, I don’t think that’s actually happening.
What we’ve learned from history is: we don’t learn from history.
As you said well Rick, “Lather, rinse, repeat.”
Agree, Dana. Commensality, in its physicality, is crucial to both church and secular life. The inability to come to the table together and eat impedes relationship at its deepest as well as its most material levels. The loss is visceral and sensory. Just try to nurture an infant without being able to touch infant.
‘can’t’? or ‘won’t’?
the Church as ‘the Body of Christ’, if it exists as a reality, will attempt to ‘conform’ it’s members to the mind and the heart of Christ
so much for the ‘theology of the month’ club; or the ‘celebrity pastors’, and those who say ‘what Our Lord REALLY meant was ________’
people are drawn to what scratches their ears, but real Christian transformation opens those ears, instead, and sometimes the journey requires patience and self-sacrifice that many ‘won’t’ accept, opting out for the easier path by choice. But it is a choice, this. Not a ‘can’t’.
The difference ? Ask those who enter(ed) into the evangelical wilderness what they were missing, when their former faith community had all the answers, but it wasn’t enough, and they knew it.
If a church’s worship experience consists of a sermon augmented by some heartfelt singing, then “content distribution” via technology is a natural extension of what is already being done. It goes right along with the de-emphasis of Place in our mobile (and increasingly more lonely, regardless of class) society. It also goes right along with the Modernist split of the “spiritual” realm from the material, the view of reality as a 2-storey universe. It also goes right along with our propensity to be good consumers, fueled by our own greed and the greed of others.
But what is Incarnation? It is the physicality of love-begotten life in a particular place. And this is what Sacramental worship is about – not only bread, wine, oil, water, incense, etc. but the actual physical people. Calling an elderly person is good. Actually going to visit is better. Same thing with on-line church services: we’ve made an accommodation to the situation, and that’s good – but it will never be the same as the physicality that is inherent in Sacramentality and Incarnation. Reality is One Thing. And material human beings are Icons in that reality. And money cannot buy any of that.
The whole “church growth” movement was a reflection of the prosperity that increased in the ’80s, relying on a flimsy interpretation of Scripture and ignoring the history of the Church (as usual in the US). There are some advantages to technology, but the “what you win them with is what you win them to” adage is also true, and IMNSHO should be the basis of any thought and discussion in churches going forward.
I’m feeling very tempted to to confirm Godwin’s law!
maybe it’s not about the number of people in the congregation that matters so much
not when it closes its doors to ‘those other sinners’
not when it hands out voting guides
not when it has no place in it for quiet reflection on Christ and Him Crucified
not when women are kept silent
not when it cannot see Christ ‘in the beggar at the door’
veni Creator Spiritus – come Holy Spirit,
enlighten the hearts of the people
and Thou shalt renew the face of the Earth
You aren’t alone in your view 🙂
‘elderly people are people too’
and we must again ask
‘what is the value of a single human life?’
All good comments so far today! I am paying attention, and reading them all! Hopefully I will have time to respond before the end of the day.
I think Skye Jethani is someone who talks about this a lot, and in a meaningful way.
There is a bug-a-boo in that you are talking about streaming into two institutions you already have a incarnate relationship with.
I do believe Churches should lean more heavily on technology for content & distribution. Incarnate Content Distribution is a terrible waste of time when there are much better things to do with incarnate time.
> This isn’t real church. It’s a decent response to a crisis.
It is too easy to be meaningful.
Maybe, perhaps, — what I am coming to believe — is that “church” can’t scale. Like, can’t, as in can’t.
What if somewhere just above viability is the Optimum?
And now we can all argue about what “viability” is? 🙂
I would read that.
I might be interested in reading a book titled “The Middle-Class Captivity of the American Church.”
As a counterpoint to most of what’s being said here today…
1) Watched two church services, the one for my daughter’s church and the one that my wife and I attend.
2) Got coffee, ate a breakfast bar, glanced at my phone a few times, went to the bathroom, all while listening.
3) Got two very different messages from two very different pastor personalities. Enjoyed them both as complementary to each other, each focused on Jesus Christ in their own distinct way.
4) Didn’t have to rush out the door and curse at Sunday drivers as I tried to get to church on time.
5) Didn’t take a shower before joining the live streams.
6) Didn’t shave, either.
7) Could openly comment on statements that struck me as odd, rather than whispering them or having to save them for later.
And the people repent.
Then they go back to their old ways.
Then God delivers His message again.
And the people repent.
Then they go back to their old ways.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Thank God for Jesus!
–> “Which, it seems to me, the ‘meeting in person’ model was failing at just as much as he fears the virtual model will. Whatever it is the church needs, it transcends either meeting model.”
That was kind of what I was thinking, too.
–> “Where is the Church in the midst of this trouble? And in being what it was meant to be, maybe the answer is in that question: ‘IN THE MIDST OF THIS TROUBLE’ we may find the Church as it was meant to be ‘with’, sheltering, and nursing, and ministering, and reminding us that Christ is ‘present’ in the midst of our suffering.”
Yes. And our church has partnered up with a refugee aid organization and a hunger relief agency to be a distribution center for boxes of food every Wednesday. It’s been heartening to see and to be Jesus’ hands and feet to the community.
Seems like a rather practical list to me. A “have you thought about how to handle these things” exercise is probably prudent for all churches/businesses to have coming out of this.
And even those newspaper horoscopes are no more foolish, or dangerous, than the Christian churches and their leaders that continue to hold services with hundreds of people shoulder to shoulder, in defiance of the law and the well-being of everyone around them.
I’m talking about personalized horoscopes and astrological charts, not the ones you read in the daily paper, but the kind that Nancy Reagan had made and consulted for her husband. They are more popular now than ever. Even before this crisis, they had become extremely popular among millennials, partly due to the ease with which one can get a personalized chart online now, as opposed to having to get an astrologer to make one for you.
Horoscopes kinda lose their meaning and whatever “validity” they had when they say, “Today would be a good day to see friends. Be the life of the party. Take that trip that you’ve always wanted to take.” I was seriously laughing at the absurdity of the first several I read when this all began.
If they cease to exist they no longer will. 🙂
> committed small core of elderly congregants,
Oh, for sure!
Elderly people are people too! 🙂
That’s just a question of if something in this crisis – including the oncoming economic catastrophe – changes that mix, potentially replacing/augmenting that group. I do not feel that is outside the realm of possibility.
It’s difficult for me to see how anything digital substitutes for being together for worship. The church I attend has a fairly good digital service of around 25 minutes. The music is good; the short homily also. And there were 445 viewers on Easter Sunday. However, these numbers show very little. Someone may have taken a peek and gone their way. It’s
a faceless community.
This isn’t real church. It’s a decent response to a crisis. However, I tend to agree with what Allen said: “Those type of video solutions give me a overwhelming sense of loneliness and disconnectedness.”
Being is Christian is not something passed down by genetic code. It is usually taught and patterned into your life at an early age. The baby boomers dropped the ball on instilling a religious aspect to their children’s life. Yes, people can accept Christ when an adult but the base of any religion it is taught at home, early and ongoing. Internet meetings and teaching in an isolated home setting is fine if you have an established foundation. There will always be the faithful few that will keep the foundational teaching of Christianity available. When religion is not a major part of the secular world there is of course less social pressure to pursue religious teachings. With 3 generations we will be in a post Christian world. I cannot conceive that the post Christian world will be a better world . I believe the internet meetings , etc. will be a fad and not create a true renewed interest in church attendance or being part of a church. The printing press added to the understanding, growth and influence of Christian beliefs. I do not see the same results from the internet. Internet church worship requires little effort, little involvement and no feeling of belonging.
Yep, same as when everything is “normal.”
Both the church communities that I’m a part of have seen a huge upsurge in the number of times per week that members are connecting with the community and with each other: nightly Zoom gatherings, morning Bible studies, socially-distant group hikes, and people just emailing or phoning or video chatting with each other.
You could look at that and say that people always flock to faith communities during a crisis, that virtual gatherings are no replacement for being present to each other in person, and that the spike in numbers is temporary. But, I’m holding out hope for an alternative explanation: that the virus has reminded us how important relationships and community are, and that we may be seeing a shift where people who are forced to be less consumer-focused and productivity focused suddenly discover the importance of our connections with each other.
Just a personal and emotional note. If I get a choice between being alone and being in a zoom/video conferencing type of interaction, I choose being alone. Even in person, my social skills take work and intention. In a video conferencing environment my skills are deplorable. I find those types of environments get dominated by one or two personality types, even worse than in person settings. Those type of video solutions give me a overwhelming sense of loneliness and disconnectedness.
Church growth during times of national crisis is certainly an evanescent thing. Horoscopes also become much more popular in those times.
Well said. I was wondering before I saw this article how number obsessed Baptist friends would view the metrics. It reminds me a few years ago when blogging first was big. A pastor I know was obsessed with the numbers and the indications that he was getting hits from Russia and Eastern European countries, I knew it was mostly bots and information gathering. Numbers weren’t real.
I’m not sure what’s astonishing about “church growth” during times of national crisis. When has this ever not been the case?
As much as the Church claims to be “set apart” it has always slavishly followed the larger culture. As people retreat into a their own individual digital cocoons (but identical to everyone else’s digital cocoon!) why expect the Church to be different? There may come a day when a public gathering will be seem quaint and recherché.
If those churches are anything like the similar churches in my area, they are sustained by a combination of a committed small core of elderly congregants, a trust fund of some sort, or both. Remove either support pillar (and neither will last for much longer) and that church will disappear.
Not if the affluent middle-class church has anything to do with it.
It is seems like a competent administrator’s list to me.
As long as it is not the totality of the response it is entirely appropriate.
In my experience both being involved in “ministry” and on the Board of Trustees of a church: sound planning and wise pragmatism was in short supply. The old adage “the devil is in the details” is true. He lives there because he’s clever enough to know that’s where the power is.
> As the affluent middle-class goes in the country, so goes the church.
You don’t think there is a space for a post-affluent not-middle-class church?
> it seems to me, the ‘meeting in person’ model was failing at just as much
Counterpoint: I am ringed by churches which are older than 100 years and still going. I have no doubt they will still be going after this.
Of course that number is probably been slashed by ~1/3rd in the last ~20 years (I suspect serious over-saturation made possibly by gross prosperity).
No doubt it is a mixed bag, but the survivors are clearly relevant to someone.
Those are all good articles.
> It is just that CoVid-19 drew our attention to just how bad it was
If anything good resolves out of the end of this I hope it is the above.
And in connection with my above comment, and related to a longer comment I made earlier but that has gotten lost in cyberspace, the church may find ways to keep enough of the stay-at-home, work-from-home via internet middle and upper classes to remain viable, but it will be even more lost to the poor working class, which is going to grow tremendously as a result of this crisis, and which will be even more deeply divided from the classes above — including the institutional churches — than it is now
The virtual model is exposing and exacerbating problems that already existed in the institutional churches, which themselves have been packaging goods for market consumption for a long time. As the affluent middle-class goes in the country, so goes the church.
[IT guy for three decades] How do they get those numbers? Beware the numbers. Like page visitor numbers are not straight forward metrics viewership numbers on online videos don’t mean anyone viewed the video; it could be as simple as having been the next selected video for a device sitting there on auto-play (especially if it is Youtube). There is a lot of noise in those numbers. They mean something, but I’d be hesitant to get too excited that they 1:1 correspond to someone actually watching – it is more complicated then that.
I side with the skeptics quoted in the post above. I don’t think this has legs beyond the crisis, I think it’s about convenience and ease, I think it’s about something delivered via technology to quarantined consumers who are bored out of their minds — as well as a more than a little scared — and looking for a little uplift without much commitment involved. That is, many of the same problems that exist in brick-and-mortar churches exist in the online church, but to a far greater degree, and with a life expectancy dependent on the crisis.
Where I expect this crisis to hurt the institutional church in a way that it already has a big problem with is class stratification and division, just as it’s hurting the rest of society. The class divisions are between the shelter-at-home, work-from-home-online, well-paid or wealthy classes that are able to stay far safer in their modest middle-class or vast rich fortresses; and the supply workers who, out of economic necessity and designation as essential workers, are not able or allowed to stay at home in relative safety but instead must at risk to their lives make sure the first group has as many essentials, as well as luxuries, delivered as nearly as possible to its doorsteps. I won’t talk about medical professionals, since they are in a class all by itself, risking their lives heroically on a daily basis, but remember that for each medical professional, there is a host of support staff who are often not well-paid — think for instance about cafeteria workers and janitorial staff at hospitals — and run great risk with little reward or recognition. Just as the crisis is exposing and deepening the class divisions that already existed in the wider society, it is doing the same thing this very moment in the church. If the institutional church does not have ears to hear, or eyes to see, this reality, if it continues to cater to and live at the same address and in the same lifestyle as the comfortable affluent and well-off, then it will lose even more of the poor working-class than it already has, and that poor working class will be much larger in the wake of this crisis than it has been for decades, or maybe a century.
God’s message over the millennia of calamities
“Repent of your sins and turn towards Me.”
“There’s an old marketing saying that goes, “What you win them with, you win them to.”
If you’re winning people to a ten or fifteen minute viewing of a prepackaged worship and teaching experience, devoid of community, mission, correction, reconciliation or justice, you’re not growing the church. You’re fostering religious consumers.”
Which, it seems to me, the ‘meeting in person’ model was failing at just as much as he fears the virtual model will. Whatever it is the church needs, it transcends either meeting model.
“What is the Spirit saying to us the church in all of this? Where is the church in all of this? How is the church going to respond? How should the church respond?”
if the Church was in good form, it would already BE what was now needed . . . but that could put the Church back half a millenium . . .
at the time of the Black Death, the bubonic plague, in Europe, just before the Reformation, the Church WAS the institution that cared for the sick and the dying by nursing and by ministry,
so it was that about 90% of the clergy in Europe including the monks and the nuns cared for the sick and ministered to the dying and in doing so, perished themselves.
in short, the Church did act to serve the extremely ill population and did not hold back or stint about going out among the sick and the dying, but the cost was great as so many clergy perished from the plague
so those are good questions, in the light of history, yes
Where is the Church in the midst of this trouble? And in being what it was meant to be, maybe the answer is in that question: ‘IN THE MIDST OF THIS TROUBLE’ we may find the Church as it was meant to be ‘with’, sheltering, and nursing, and ministering, and reminding us that Christ is ‘present’ in the midst of our suffering.
Ken Braddy’s list reminds one of the ‘Martha Syndrome’ 🙂
it might be a sign of his own anxiety over how this will turn out