A Year With Covid

AFTER A YEAR OF LIFE WITH COVID...

We have navigated some pretty rough waters as a church.  Our adult attendance figures have been about 70% of where they were pre-COVID and that puts us in the category of a thriving church.  

Every business has had to make similarly tough decisions, and I don’t judge them for the choices they have made. Initially, we shut down for ten weeks then opened with a policy of “Masks encouraged but not required” primarily for two reasons: 1) we didn’t want to usurp the responsibility from individuals for their own health decisions, and 2) I didn’t want it said that someone had to wear a mask to be saved at Thunder Mountain Church.
 
I thought you’d like to know that after one year of COVID, we have gotten no calls in contact tracing for our weekend gatherings. There have been several people from within TMC who have contracted COVID and their experiences have ranged from mild to severe but for the record, if we had closed for the past year, it would not have impacted the hospital census more than one or two people.

During this time, we have invested time and energy into improving our online experience and have worked to make the Masks Only Room a quality experience.

As we move forward, we continue to evaluate how to make disciples in our online community, knowing that life as we knew it no longer exists but then that truth would have existed anyway whether COVID happened or not. Most of the changes that occurred were nothing new.
What we are experiencing now, is actually the speeding up of trends that were already in place. The online experience was already growing in importance as the “front door” whereby most people were choosing to have their first visit.  Even before people thought of “online church,” the importance of church online was growing as a form of introduction but it has become THE church experience for many.  The problem is that it doesn’t seem to be sustainable because studies are reported that 1 out of 5 people no longer attend at all.

The frequency of what was considered “regular” attendance had already been dropping significantly in recent years. I think this is a result of an old tension between “being fed” and participating in the “feeding” of others. Talk of “I can get what I need online” has been heard often over the past year but I think it reflects the very concern the writer of Hebrews expressed below about not meeting at all.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:24–25 (NIV)

The world as we knew it at the start of last year is hardly recognizable now but the promises of God and the purpose of our gatherings remains unchanged!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." - 1 Peter 1:3–7 (NIV)

UPDATES ON TRENDS
  1. Our online engagement has been decreasing as our in person attendance has been increasing. We will continue to livestream the 9:00 am gathering but the 10:30 livestream will be discontinued effective June 6. The 9:30 gathering will still be available on-demand after it goes live and we are looking into services that will provide you with greater access on a variety of platforms.
  2. Our Mask Only Room is available at the 9:00 am gathering time if you would like to take advantage of it as a good first step for re-entering back into an in-person church experience.
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