Renewing Faith Amongst Communities During COVID-19
Crisis has a way of causing us to reflect deeply on the things in life that we hold dear to our hearts. In many instances, crisis reveals that some of the things we’ve been holding on to perhaps weren’t really that important, and the aspects of life we relegated to the corner were actually crucial to our personal growth.
Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis, amidst all the community work and church readjusting they’ve had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, was reminded that their community desperately needed faith more than they realized.
“I’m hearing this sentiment a lot from a lot of people,” said Aaron Brockett, Lead Pastor. "They’re saying something that I’ve really never heard from our people before. They’re saying, ‘We need you.’”
Before the pandemic, there was a tainted view of the church—one of irrelevance and disinterest. Now Aaron and Traders Point are encouraged by what they’re experiencing.
“Crisis actually reveals that we were made to worship something, and all of the things that we worship just got stripped from us,” Aaron said. “There’s no sports. There’s no entertainment. The economy is being trashed. Even our self-reliance has been taken away because we’re all on lockdown. Everybody’s idols have been stripped away. People are realizing that they do need faith more than they thought.”
“The mission of the church hasn’t changed. Circumstances have changed. And if history tells us anything, we weather pandemics.”—@AaronBrockett
The need for people to engage in a deeper renewed faith life is evident by their online statistics in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Even already having an online presence, Traders Point saw an increase of engagements during their livestreams each weekend. Traders Point, prior to the pandemic, averaged 10,000 people at their physical gatherings, while cataloging 2,000 to 3,000 engagements online each week.
“The five weekends prior to Easter, we had half a million engagements each weekend. And they were increasing by about 150,000–200,000 each weekend,” Aaron remarked. “For people tuning in and actually watching the whole service, we had somewhere around 17,000–18,000 unique devices. On Easter, everything doubled. So, on Easter, there were about 27,000 devices, roughly, and we had 3.1 million engagements.”
In addition, the way the church served the community also played a role in drawing people back. Their level of intimate outreach that has made a great impact.
“We’ve done food donations,” Aaron noted. “But we have really tried to mobilize all of our small group leaders to call on people and to provide care packages. We’ve got people that are paying each other’s utility bills, getting prescriptions, and buying groceries for those that are on forced quarantined and the elderly.”
Aaron said the personal touch has kept people engaged on both ends. Those serving are more excited to do Kingdom work after feeling more empowered to lead, and those being served are more interested in growing in their faith by receiving authentic care. Because of these efforts, there has been an increase of activity at Traders Point, despite the lockdowns that have been in place.
Traders Point Christian Church
“I don’t think I’ve seen engagement as high as what it’s been, both tuning in on the weekend and trying to serve throughout the week,” Aaron said. “That’s pretty remarkable. Whereas prior to all this, people would say they were committed to church, only to show up one and half times a month. And now they’re engaged a lot more.”
Even when Traders Point was given an opportunity to serve in a bigger way, they still kept their means of service at a relational level. Aaron recently worked with one of his small group participants (a doctor at a local hospital) to purchase 235,000 KN95 masks. Traders Point gave $100,000 to help purchase the masks and acted as the point organization to rally 13 other churches in Indiana.
“It’s going to be the long game of shepherding people’s hearts and helping them to grow in that faith.”—@AaronBrockett
“I’ve got a doctor in my small group and I told him that I had 32,000 masks in my garage,” Aaron explained. “I asked, could he use them? He told me that there was a local hospital that was down to about five days’ worth of supplies and 2,100 masks will get them through the next month.”
Traders Point has also doubled their benevolence budget to remain flexible when physical needs arise.
“I’m really happy that our church has jumped in on some of those tangible ways,” Aaron said.
As Aaron and Traders Point begin to look toward the future, they’ve realized that this crisis positively catalyzed them in a direction they were already going.
“To me, all that the crisis has done is accelerated where we were really headed anyway,” Aaron said. “I don’t think physical gatherings are going away because we’re social beings. But it’s caused us to reevaluate our stewardship of our resources. The mission of the church hasn’t changed. Circumstances have changed. And if history tells us anything, we weather pandemics.”
Aaron believes crisis has a way of refining churches.
“Crisis reveals your strengths and your weakness,” Aaron said. “Exposing some the things that you were holding on to a little too tightly that you shouldn’t have been. It’s exposing, maybe, our level of comfort that had turned into apathy.”
And the way a church responds to crisis will determine its longevity.
“For me,” Aaron continued. “It’s going to be the long game of shepherding people’s hearts and helping them to grow in that faith.”