Joel Elliott Mooneyhan
Zoom Fatigue Redux
A few weeks ago I posted a three-part blog series around Atlanta Christian Church’s decision to lean into the weirdness of church during a pandemic: why we chose to stick with online gatherings, how we adjusted our small group ministries and children’s programming, and what we saw unfold in the midst of those decisions. There is even a podcast episode about it, which you can find here.
Coming back around to it, I wanted to share a few hard numbers to give a clearer picture of that information. A quick note before we get into it:
ACC is a comparatively small church in Atlanta when you consider ministries like North Point, Passion City, Grace Fellowship—and other churches further out in the Metro Atlanta Area like 12 Stone, Free Chapel, and so on. It’s also smaller than many of the denominational churches in the area.
Our staff is 3 people, with a deep bench of volunteers who do anything from music, leading kids’ classes, hosting small groups, leading Sunday morning breakout sessions, and many other behind the scenes ministries. In short, we are a smaller ship to steer.
With all of that said, here is where we are:
Pre-Pandemic, we counted as members around 220 people; like every church, we have a mix of weekly-attendees, once-montly attendees, and everything in between or on the edges of those extremes. At the beginning of 2020, we averaged about 160 on a Sunday: this includes morning worship along with children and youth programs, all running concurrently. Around 90-100 would be in our worship service, and the rest includes adult volunteers working in the children and youth ministries during the service.
From March until today, our weekly attendance on our Zoom services averages about 110, plus pre-service children and youth classes of about 20-24 students and children.
You may notice that our worship attendance actually trended up a bit. That’s because we have actually picked up visitors to our church, even while not meeting in person regularly.
41 of our people are engaged in small groups styled after the Methodist Class Meeting, with 7 individual groups meeting across 6 days of the week.
Our weekly devotionals and podcasts engage around 120 of our members on a weekly basis. Throughout the year, we also ran five traditional Small Groups, one College Group, six short-term theological deep dive classes, and six book clubs, providing options for engagement with a larger degree of flexibility in terms of schedule and topical interest.
In many unexpected ways, we have seen the community of our church thrive. It’s almost as if Christ has the power to grow His church in spite of ourselves.
Every church has a unique community that requires a different touch. But if you are on staff or are a volunteer at a smaller-membership church, or even if you work at a larger one, we believe that there are aspects of what we are doing that, whether in theory or practice, do have validity and some degree of scalability.
If you’d like to read more of our experience, you can read the three part series here, here, and here.
And if you’d like to listen to our staff commiserate for a bit and share our experiences, we recorded a podcast that you can listen to here.