COLORADO SPRINGS — With more restrictions and a rise in coronavirus cases, local churches have had to get creative when it comes to church amid the pandemic by utilizing technology to stream services, pivoting to outdoor services, and navigating around the financial impact of the pandemic.
For Pikes Peak Christian Church, they've had to make some big changes since the pandemic began, especially when it comes to ministry.
"In our main sanctuary, we've moved a lot of our seats so that we're doing the social distancing and we ask people to sit in family units," said Scott Price, Executive Director at Pikes Peak Christian Church. "Initially, we had about a third coming, a third online, and a third that we didn't know how to connect. We're getting more coming, but we're not where we were."
Recently, the church closed its doors due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Something they weren't expecting especially during a time when they were getting back to a semblance of normalcy.
"When we realized we had some of our volunteers and staff testing positive, we made the immediate decision to not have any in-person meetings, services, or bible study services until we're out of this," said Price. "We had not seen anyone that we knew of positive down here. Then BOOM, it happened."
He says the COVID-19 pandemic has provided churches with the opportunity to reach more with the use of technology. They've also had to pivot when it comes to donations.
"Putting money in the plate and passing it down the aisle, we don't do that anymore so people aren't touching the same instrument," said Price. "We just have boxes in the back and people will drop their envelopes in there. When we were closed down, we had to learn how to give offerings online which isn't a big deal. It's just a different way of giving."
He says it's been a learning curve for some of their members during the pandemic, and donations have gone up and down. Despite the fluctuations, the church's budget has stayed steady.
"God has really blessed us, we are so close to making our budget every month. We just jump up and down in how God has been providing for us," said Price.
Pastor Eric Sandras with The Sanctuary Church says they've seen a dip in giving, but not as much as they expected. He says the community is changing the way they donate.
"Our donations have stayed steady but they've shifted in how they happen. A lot of congregation would give to the general fund and trust us to distribute. We've had a lot of community members who don't even attend the church donate money to our food pantry, counseling center because they see the need and see us as a resource in the community," said Sandras. "We were just given a great award through a couple of charities in town to help us buy new box trucks to help us deliver food easier."
Sandras says the pandemic has forced churches to make necessary adjustments to survive such as utilizing more technology.
"Where we used to think online attendance was a sidebar thing, that if you had the time, do it. Now it's a necessity to reach people," said Sandras.
In the months the church was closed, Sandras said they pivoted and focused on helping those in need. From those struggling with addiction to those needing a hot meal.
"Our food pantry has grown and grown and grown. From maybe giving away 500 pounds of foods on Saturdays to now giving away 2,000 pounds of food Saturday," said Sandras.
Cross Creek Church also having to navigate the pandemic, getting used to limited capacity on Sundays and changing the way they reach people.
"Over the last few months, we've really invested in our online services. Added cameras and the people who are hosts on our Facebook live stream. We've invested in a lot of that and we have classes on how to join our church, and what specifically we believe has also been moved online," said Michael Haley, Pastor of Cross Creek Church.
He believes there's going to be a long-lasting emotional effect, especially with kids who've had to be pulled out of school and church. He says kids really need that social interaction which is why the church has been getting involved with the community during this time.
"One of the local coffee shops, we paid for teachers for one day. For any teacher who wanted a free coffee as a way to help out local teachers and also to help out a local business,"
He says the pandemic has also given them an opportunity to connect with the community in different ways.
"With another church in town, New Jerusalem, we were able to get our churches that may look a little different and maybe even believe a little different have a huge community event and called Love Fountain," said Haley. "The police came and we did a toy drive for the Fountain Police Department to just help them as well.
He says there have been some discouraging things during the pandemic, but they've been encouraged that God is still at work.