Doing church together but apart

For people of faith, one of the more challenging results of the coronavirus has been the closure of all religious gatherings.

The normal rhythm of church attendance has been disrupted, and even small-group gatherings have been put on hold.

Many churches have scrambled to create a church experience online that could at least help members connect and take solace and inspiration during these difficult times. Adding to the demanding effort for church staff is trying to do so within proper social-distancing guidelines which limit how many people can work in proximity on a stage.

While a few churches on Kaua‘i previously had online presences with live recordings of their Sunday services, the nature of what is now needed to be presented has to factor in families with all ages represented in front of the screen.

And the unknowns for churches are huge as well. Would online attendance drop, stay the same as a normal church service, or grow? Would the giving necessary to meet church budgets evaporate or be significantly reduced?

There was quiet concern as to the sustainability of doing church in this manner. For many, that concern has lessened greatly.

After their first totally online experience, the leadership team at Kaua‘i Christian Fellowship were both thrilled and amazed at the results.

“Our church attendance went through the roof numerically” said Pastor Rick Bundschuh. “We had over a thousand households lock into our worship service on Facebook and our website last week, and we had a huge amount of positive feedback. Our people understand what we are trying to do, and the difficulty of it.”

The biggest hurdle he sees is to create moments that engage younger viewers.

“Kids have shorter attention spans and need more visual stimulation,” he explained. “Our Children’s Pastor Jenna Marshall has created a packet of message-related material designed for kids that can be downloaded by parents. We think that will help with keeping kids in the loop when what is being broadcast is more geared for adults or teens.”

Bundschuh said the 9:30 a.m. worship service at KCF will even feature interactive elements where those at home can text in their responses in real time.

With Easter week, considered the most important time of the Christian calendar, coming quickly, church staff are tackling a steep learning curve to make sure that their congregations are being cared for and inspired via electronics if they can’t do it in person.


Rick Bundschuh is pastor of Kaua‘i Christian Fellowship in Po‘ipu.

  1. Kauaidoug March 30, 2020 8:59 am Reply

    Now that is Good News!

  2. Contrary Mary March 30, 2020 8:30 pm Reply

    ‘If they can’t do it in person?:” No, ‘Pastor” they can’t. Nice commercial, though. What part of “no more than 10 at one time” don’t you get? You cannot have any church services even on Easter.

    Let me soften this blow a little tiny bit for you, shall we? You can always put a “donate to the basket” app on your website somewhere. Don’t worry, those coins will keep clinking away.
    Seriously though even the Pope himself isn’t doing gigs in front of an audience. And I assure you, he is doling way better than you in all things Christian at this time. Because he takes it seriously.
    All of the churches on Kauai are late to the game. The virus has been percolating inside all of your members for oh lets say almost that nice amount of time it took since last Sunday. About 7 days.
    You, and your family and all of the Church administration should be tested, and share those results with your congregation.
    You should be telling your congregations to get tested, to take the virus seriously, to separate the kupuna within the households as best as you can, to stay at home as much as possible, to protect themselves with PPE when having to go outside.
    This is what the Pope, the heads of the Jewish communities, and the Dalai lama are telling their people. And they are not allowing people to gather either.
    But no. Christians are throwing “Virus parties”, and saying really weak stuff like, “if you cant make it, we will have it online. Wow, I am so surprised!”.
    Yeah, cuz it just dawned on all the churches here to do that. Yup. Rope a dope duh mentality right there.
    If you were a real christian,l all of you so callers would be flippin home sewing face-masks, and making shields for doctors. I see enough at you at the craft fairs with those scrubbie sponges and dishcloths.
    Seriously. Get a grip. Would Jesus infect his congregations?
    No. He would not.
    Here is a word out to all of the churches on Sundays. you can be arrested and shut down for encouraging people to come to your church, not social distance, and sit and sing too close. When you sing, you expel air, and droplets. Do you not know this? Its like being a dentist. Its a huge no no no can go bro.
    This is why I stepped away from the crazy train that has become religious services of any kind. Ridiculous.
    Shameful to say, “if you can”. Its you will stay away on Easter. Christ is not going to show up and say, “Oh wow, I came back today and no one is here? Bummer. Im telling dad.”
    Grow up and be a responsible leader, and stop with the “Oh, gosh, gollee gee shucks” routine. Doesn’t fly. We weren’t born yesterday.
    Did you read in the New York Times that a funeral was held and there was a pastor who believed it was just fine to come, just “stay away if you can”. Last count, 6 people are dead, and counting. About a week to ten days after.
    You all think about that. Jesus didn’t stop it, either.
    Think about that too.

  3. Michael Mann March 30, 2020 9:23 pm Reply

    Hmmm…as recently as March 25, SCROTUS IMPOTUS was saying that everyone should pack the churches on Eastern Sunday, if not before.

    Do the faithful not plan to heed his call? I’m sure they still plan to support him, even though it appears he would gladly have them put their lives and everyone else’s lives in danger by not heeding the calls to stay at home during a pandemic.

    “Kids have shorter attention spans and need more visual stimulation.”

    Makes you wonder what SCHOOLS have to go through 5 days a week, doesn’t it? Whatever your church is going through in this regard, you need to amplify that maybe 100-fold to understand what schools are dealing with. All because parents can’t seem to teach their kids that there are times when you need to sit down, close your mouth, READ, and LISTEN.


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