A new survey of 750 churches of differing sizes from around the world compiled by the church technology company Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software, shows that while the majority of pastors feel comfortable reopening their buildings, they expect changes in attendance, programming, and operations.

More churches in the Midwest (49%) and South (44%) have already opened while only 24% of churches in the West and 13% of churches in the Northeast have resumed gatherings.

While 82% of churches indicated feeling somewhat to very comfortable resuming physical worship, the vast majority (72%) of pastors surveyed said they will continue offering online services. Once churches open, other precautions will be taken including strongly suggesting masks (54%), allowing fewer people in the services (25–29%), and delaying corporate singing (20%).

Nearly half (44%) of pastors expect attendance to stay the same though 32% surveyed believe attendance will decrease. On the other end, 24% believe they will see a rise in attendance.

Many churches have continued to see a strong attendance in online worship throughout COVID-19 thanks to technology,” said Faithlife Founder and CEO Bob Pritchett. “What these past few months have proven is that people are hungry for God’s Word. While nothing can replace physical gatherings, I believe we will continue to see churches utilizing digital tools to provide an online worship and Bible study connection experience for those in their church unable or uncomfortable with resuming communal worship.”

Nearly every church (96%) identified a need for online communication in offering clear directions about how they will re-open but recognized gathering will look a bit different for the time being.

Approximately three-fourths (72%) of respondents plan to use online giving tools and other paperless methods to limit contact between individuals. More than half (54%) plan to keep kids’ programming closed during worship services and just over 40% plan to forego any additional programs beyond weekend worship. Additionally, half (50%) of all churches surveyed will not host VBS or summer camps. Over a quarter of churches have not decided whether or not to host summer programs (29%) and 9% will hold online programs. Only 6% of respondents plan to hold VBS or camp as usual.

This data highlights that churches will continue to shift their usual ways to in order to prioritize the health and safety of their congregants as a result of COVID-19,” said Pritchett. “But, the results also reassure us that the majority of church leaders will continue to ensure their congregants have the tools necessary to stay spiritually nourished during this new season.”

To view the full survey, click here.