The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected so many facets of public and social life. One of the most important gatherings for so many people is church, especially in Los Angeles where the population is 48.6 percent Latino. Latinos are typically Catholics, who want to attend church on Sunday. They are also suffering more from COVID-19 pandemic more than the white residents of the city. While Catholics aren’t the only religious people in Los Angeles by a long shot, it is representative of how many people want to worship.
L.A. is made up of 32 percent Catholics and 65 percent Christians, not to mention the others who also want to attend their churches and worship. With the crowds, singing, hand-shaking, and hugging, it is no surprise the churches are a main source of COVID-19 transmissions. A lot of religious communities are taking their services online with software for managing a church. Technology is helping us adapt to challenges that COVID-19 has brought upon our society. With gatherings like church being a main culprit of infections, everyone is forced to change with the times.
Some Churches Refuse to Stop Holding Services
While it has been proven that churches are a source of COVID-19 transmissions, a lot of churches have refused to stop holding services. This doesn’t just apply to church services before the data showed how many cases were being transmitted in churches, houses of worship have continued to hold sermons services.
Over the Christmas holiday, many churches in Los Angeles held indoor services. Despite the health concerns and lockdown measures put into place by the State of California and its counties, the L.A. County Public Health Department announced that indoor religious services would be allowed again with six-feet physical distancing between households and mandatory face masks.
This was a ruling against Governor Gavin Newsom’s restrictions on religious gatherings, arguing that it violates the First Amendment. Like protests, church gatherings are being allowed but they undoubtedly increase the number of COVID-19 infections. The Health Department warned against indoor gatherings in general and that it would result in additional transmissions and hospitalizations. Some churches are choosing to hold indoor services, but others are using technology to overcome these public health challenges.
Using Technology to Overcome Challenges
Technology has facilitated the process of transitioning to a COVID-19 lifestyle in a number of ways. Companies, whether they are involved solely in tech or not, have adapted by sending employees home and having them work from home. With video conferences and other software programs to bring people together, the world is using these technologies much more than ever before.
While business evolved with the times quickly, churches have lagged behind. Of course you can’t recreate the community of being with people in person. Spiritual and religious gatherings suffer without a doubt. But now churches are starting to do the same. With so many cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and a lack of ICU beds, everyone is being forced to change.
Churches are now holding sermons, mass, and other services on technological software that can not only offer video streaming but church management services and other resources. These technologies were designed to help religious leaders grow the church without sacrificing personal connection and community. There are new products popping up to help churches accomplish their mission with tools that will enable the staff and manage the growth of churches.
Increasing Church Populations
While churches are being discouraged from gathering, this doesn’t necessarily mean that churches can’t continue to grow. Attending services can actually be a reason people didn’t become patrons of a specific religious organization. With modern technologies, people can attend services online and get a sense of community without leaving their home. New software technology is helping churches measure and understand their patronage. By managing groups, community involvement, and streaming high-quality video for services, new technology can connect churches with individuals and help them engage with congregants.
The challenges of COVID-19 are multi-faceted and complex. They may seem insurmountable, but technology has shown that we can evolve to meet them. While gatherings are a problem and churches account for a decent amount of transmissions, it is possible to stay connected and be a part of a community without putting at-risk individuals in harm’s way. Churches are struggling to survive in the pandemic. They need to adapt with technology to increase their patronage and donations, and it is entirely within grasp. A willingness to evolve will reward everyone. This is not just for big business companies, it applies to churches as well.
Ryan Beitler is a journalist, writer, and blogger who has written for Paste Magazine, The Slovenia Times, New Noise Magazine, and many more.