Impact of COVID-19 on American Baptist Churches USA Congregations
In May, American Baptist Churches USA conducted a survey of their congregations to assess the impact of COVID-19. A total of 414 congregations responded and a summary of the quantitative results is included below, along with a link to the full report.
While the survey indicated that a slight majority of the congregations surveyed are experiencing only a slight or moderate impact from COVID-19, a small percentage of ABC congregations have been hit very hard by the pandemic. The majority (63%) believe that they are in an area with fewer cases than the rest of the country, about half (52%) indicated that COVID-19 has had a moderate or less impact on their congregation, and a smaller percentage (14%) reported being hit very hard financially stating that at least 20% of their members are unemployed.
Worship and Ministry
The survey shows signs that many congregations have delivered a hardy response to the adverse effects of COVID-19. While the pandemic has elicited both positive and negative influences upon the congregations surveyed, sometimes the dual influences have occurred in same areas such as worship and outreach. A few highlights include:
- 73% of respondents believe that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their worship, but a slightly higher number (77%) believe that the pandemic has also created new opportunities for worship. Similarly, 50% believe that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their outreach, while 61% believe that it has created new opportunities in this same area of ministry.
- Over half (57%) of respondents say that their worship attendance has increased during the pandemic compared to only 14% who say it has declined.
- Nearly 4 out of 5 respondents indicate that they plan to continue to offer online worship following the stay at home orders.
In most cases, increased worship attendance has not translated into increased giving. 60% report that giving has decreased compared to only 16% who report that giving has increased during the pandemic.
In terms of balancing the budget, one-third expressed no concern, another third expressed some concern, and a third expressed moderate to heavy concern.
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents say that their congregations are not worried about paying their pastor and staff in the near future.
While COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on some congregations, others have shown strong signs of resiliency and hope.
38% of respondents anticipated that their congregation will be “healthier than it was before” following the pandemic, compared to only 12% who said they believe it will be “less healthy than it was before.”
42% of respondents said that they feel their congregation is an extremely innovative or very innovative congregation, signaling creative responses to COVID-19.
For a more comprehensive look at the findings of this study, please visit the link below.
Please direct questions to:
Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Acting General Secretary, American Baptist Churches USA