Over the last couple of weeks, churches around the U.S. have felt the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as the nation began implementing measures to help slow the spread of this disease. Research shows that people turn to churches for hope and support during times of crisis, but in this current moment of social distancing, church leaders may feel at a loss when it comes to keeping in touch with their congregation and reaching out to their community.
In an effort to help serve the Church during this time of unprecedented disruption and as a continued part of our research into the State of the Church 2020, Barna and Gloo have created the ChurchPulse Weekly Crisis Toolkit, a free resource that includes three ways to help pastors see clearly and lead effectively in this time of uncertainty. Staying connected is more crucial now than ever before.
“Over the last six months, we’ve been working to develop good technological tools with a partner called Gloo out of Boulder,” says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “We dreamed of this State of the Church 2020 project which would really try to help the Church understand its place in a changing culture, but we had no idea how fast and how significant that would look in this real-time disruption.”
Share Your Concerns with the Weekly Leader Poll
The first aspect of the toolkit is a church leader survey that pastors and faith leaders can take weekly to share how they are feeling and adapting in light of the current crisis. Questions asked in this brief poll address topics such as: what work currently looks like for church staff, how the church building is being used in the present moment, the greatest priorities for pastors this week, how congregations are currently meeting, congregants’ spiritual health and more.
Once the survey is completed, faith leaders can view national data from this same poll to see how other pastors across the country are dealing with this disruption. This analysis, paired with additional resources, offer timely, actionable leadership insights.
“We are going through a great change and are wondering how this will change us as leaders and how this will change the Church in the months and years to come,” Kinnaman notes. “We don’t know any of those answers yet, but we do want to try and pay attention to what the world is telling us, what our people are telling us and what other leaders are experiencing.”
Kinnaman continues, “I think one of the great pivots that we made over the last ten days with our partner Scott Beck at Gloo was this idea of wanting to hear from other pastors about what it is they’re doing and sharing those experiences with other local leaders so that we can all stay better connected in this time of uncertainty.”
Stay in Touch with Your People with the Weekly Congregant Poll
We know that the heart of every pastor is to ensure that their congregants are flourishing and to help the people in their church and community grow in their faith. While obstacles posed by the current moment may prohibit pastors from having face-to-face interaction with congregants, Barna has created four congregant polls that can be customized and deployed by faith leaders to check the pulse of their church and the heart of their people.
Once the leader poll is completed, pastors can scroll through the four pre-designed surveys to select which one best fits their current need. The polls offer questions to check in on congregants, church leaders and community leaders, and can be further personalized with up to 10 additional questions for a church’s context.
“For many of us,” Kinnaman states, “this is the first time we haven’t seen the people in our congregations for weeks—not just our vacations and the weekends that we are off—and we want to check in on how they’re doing across different aspects of their lives. This is another dimension of the ChurchPulse Crisis Toolkit that we’re excited to share with church leaders as part of our ChurchPulse Weekly efforts.”
Barna hopes that these free surveys will allow church leaders to get a clear picture of how their congregants are doing spiritually, physically, financially, vocationally and relationally, offering clarity on how best to serve the people in your community, even from a distance, during this tenuous time.
Hear from Church Leaders and Experts on the ChurchPulse Weekly Podcast
Starting Monday, March 23rd, at 12 PT, Carey Nieuwhof and Barna president David Kinnaman will host a live, weekly webcast to comment on current findings from the leader and congregant polls (click here to watch the first episode). Each Monday, Nieuwhof and Kinnaman will be joined by guests and experts who will help make sense of the data and share valuable insights and direction for the current moment and the coming days.
Kinnaman notes, “ It’s really a pleasure to be able to work with Carey on this, for us to be able to feature the voice of all these leaders and then to help leaders tune into the voice of people in their congregations.”
Weekly episodes will be recorded and broadcast live each Monday on StateoftheChurch.com and will also be shared as a podcast every Thursday.
We hope you’ll tune in and join the conversation.
Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
© Barna Group, 2020