According to a new study–conducted by Barna Research– of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the African American faith community–41 percent of Black churchgoers prefer a hybrid model of in-person and online worship going forward. Just seven percent preferred that church services remain digital.
The data also showed that as of September 2020, three in five black adults had watched services online during the pandemic. Additionally, some 47% of black adults who participated in church during the pandemic said the experience made them more open to digital church, while an equal percentage who attended church online in the past six months said they favored in-person gatherings going forward.
The study, Trends in the Black Church, was conducted in partnership with the Rev. Brianna K. Parker of Black Millennial Cafe, Gloo, Urban Ministries, Inc., the American Bible Study, and Compassion.
“Data show that the pandemic pushed black church pastors to innovate and challenged their ability to disciple people digitally during the pandemic. Even now, as churches emerge from COVID-era regulations, pastors and their people wonder if or how these shifts will continue to shape the trajectory of their ministry strategy,” Barna Research noted.
The vast majority of Black Church churchgoers felt their church responded well to the pandemic. However, 35 percent agree strongly that they’re concerned about the long-term effects on their church. Across the board, larger churches were more likely to be ready and resourced to embrace the digital and hybrid space, compared to smaller churches.