Churches in the Heartland recovering post pandemic

People are beginning to fill the pews now that churches have returned to in-person services, according to the PEW Research Center.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Mo. (KFVS) - People are beginning to fill the pews, now that churches have returned to in-person services, according to the PEW Research Center.

But, that comprehensive report also shows churches still recovering from pandemic attendance loss.

Pastor Troy Richards at First Baptist Church in Jackson said “all of 2022 was trying to recover from what we lost in 2021.”

For the past two years, Richards has been trying to get things back to normal.

“About half of our deaths were from COVID-19--that actually created the biggest impact to our worship,” Richards said. “We lost a staff member too, so then our numbers took another dip.”

Over at Jackson Church of Christ, Elder David Selvig said right now their attendance is down 20 percent.

“People have gotten very comfortable with just staying home and watching the services online, so trying to get somebody to come in and actually hear the gospel here as it was intended and straight from the word is a little difficult right now,” Selvig said.

A recent PEW Research Center report shows nationally, while participation in religious organizations has remained steady, more people are taking part virtually.

Selvig said they are trying different approaches to get members to attend church in-person.

“Myself and other elders are trying to reach out to those who haven’t been in church, and our preacher as well, just encourage them to come back and be amongst our number again,” Selvig said.

Richards said even with all the different challenges they’ve faced, they continue to push forward.

“Last year you were feeling the effects of COVID, you still felt like there’s some lingering effects of having gone through all of this,” Richards said. “This year it just seems like normal challenges.”

According to the Associated Press, a PEW survey found that the share of U.S. adults typically attending religious services at least once a month dropped from 33 percent in 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak, to 30 percent in 2022. Older Americans, those above the age of 65, participated in services both in person and virtually, at a higher rate than younger Americans.