ChurchPulse Weekly Live- March 23, 2020

Introducing ChurchPulse Weekly

Carey: Welcome to the ChurchPulse Weekly, my name is Carey Nieuwhof, I’m here with David Kinnaman. David, I’m so glad we’re about to do this in this really unprecedented season. You and I have been spending a lot of time together over the last few weeks, just thinking about what we could do to help leaders through this really unprecedented crisis. And glad you are co-anchoring this with me, my friend.

David: Thanks, this is going to be so much fun. Like there’s so many changes that are happening from a daily and let alone a weekly perspective, that I think it’s going to be really fun to be able to talk together along with other leaders about what’s changing.

Carey: Yeah. So let me just give the vision cast behind the whole idea of ChurchPulse Weekly. So this is a live webcast we’re going to be doing Mondays at three o’clock Eastern, noon Pacific. But it’s also going to come out in podcast form every week, Thursday is the release day, it might vary a little bit here on week one as we’re literally building the ship while we’re sailing it so to speak.

Carey: But anyway, yeah, what we want to do is we want to connect leaders with realtime data. David, you and I have known each other for years, and I always joke whenever get together that I only have opinions, you actually have data. But we’ve made a really important pivot in the last 10 days to try to come alongside church leaders. So can you tell us the whole idea behind ChurchPulse? Because it’s more than just like … there’s a million webcasts out there, there’s literally 750,000 maybe 800,000 podcasts out there, but this is different because we’re doing realtime data analysis for the church, but for the first time really in history, we can help pastors do realtime analysis for their church. And that’s why I’m so excited about the ChurchPulse Weekly.

David: Yeah, thanks. So we’ve been dreaming up these tools for years really, and then over the last six months, we’ve been working on developing good technological tools with a partner called Gloo, out of Boulder, and then we dreamed up the State of the Church 2020 project, which would really try to help the church understand its place in a changing culture, well, we had no idea how fast and how significant that might look like-

Carey: Who’s to prepare us for the disruption, and then all of a sudden, boom, here’s the disruption, right?

David: Yeah. A realtime disruption that’s bigger than many of us have sort of experienced in our whole lifetime.

David: So ChurchPulse Weekly is designed to be a check-in with leaders. So we’ve been doing some research, we’re going to talk a little bit about the poll that we’ve just done among church leaders and pastors, and the things they’re thinking about this moment, just realtime data. What you as leaders and church leaders are thinking.

David: And then we’ve also developed some real cool tools that help you check in with the people in your church for the first time for many of us in ministry, it’s the first time that we haven’t seen the people in our congregations for weeks, not just our vacations, and the weekends that we were off, but we haven’t seen them for weeks, or we won’t see them for weeks.

David: So how are they doing? So how are they doing across different dimensions of their lives? And so that’s another dimension of the ChurchPulse that we’re excited to talk about in this podcast and as part of our ChurchPulse Weekly efforts.

Carey: So in terms of what to expect today during this broadcast is we’re going to actually go through some of the results of the first poll which we have been taking literally over the last 72 hours.

Carey: So we’re going to bring you some trends that are very recent in, I guess you could call this almost week two or week three of the crisis, it kind of all broke around maybe March 11th, 12th when there was a state of emergency and the borders started closing, and life for those of us in the West became very different. A lot of us who are speakers, our plans were canceled, our churches got closed, and then this last weekend, so we’re recording this on March 23rd, but yesterday, March 22nd, virtually all churches were closed.

Carey: And so over that weekend, we started tracking with leaders as we opened up the ChurchPulse Weekly. And we have some data, some trends, and what really excites me about this, David, it’s true not just for church leaders, but also for leaders in the church, is you’re not just going to get like you’ve already got your attendance reports from online attendance if you do that, you’re giving reports, but this is qualitative data. This is like how are you actually doing, how are your people doing, spiritually, emotionally, financially, vocationally, even physically.

Carey: You can customize the question set, so that you can actually check in with how they’re doing. And we have some of that data from hundreds of leaders who check in over the weekend, and we’re going to share those results with you. And then normally, it’s not just going to be you and me, we’ve got some incredible guests lined up, some contributors who are going to help us try to figure out what all this means, and what some reasonable next steps could be.

Carey: So that’s sort of the big vision behind the ChurchPulse Weekly. You want to add … nuance that, add that, correct anything?

David: Yeah, no, I think that’s exactly the vision. For those of you who don’t know … who wouldn’t know that that Carey and I have been friends for more than 10 years, we’ve started working on a project years ago that was fun, we got to be friends, and we’ve really enjoyed talking about what it means to lead and lead the church together. And so it’s really a pleasure to be able to work with you Carey on this. And for us to be able to feature the voice of all these leaders, and then to help leaders tune in to the voice of the people in their congregations on March 10th, you and I hosted a webcast for network leaders on state of the church, and that was like a day or two before so many things started to roll down. The NBA season got canceled, which for me was a big hit, like what are we going to watch?

David: And then we had sort of the … like every day, there were new announcements, new closures, so I think we’re all settling in together, but on March 10th, during that webcast, the last bit of data that I showed was about how we as network leaders and church leaders needed to be better connected, that to face a disruptive future, we needed to be better connected.

David: And so that’s really the premise of the ChurchPulse Weekly across all efforts that we take. It’s to help us as Christian leaders stay better connected with the people we serve, with other people who are leading Christian churches. I mean we really are going through a great change, and how will this change us as leaders, how will this change the church in the months and even the years to come, we don’t know any of those answers yet, but we want to try to pay attention to what the world is telling us, what our people are telling us and what other leaders are experiencing. That was one of, I think, the great pivots that we made in the last 10 days with our partner Scott Beck at Glu, was this idea of can we hear from other pastors about what it is they’re doing so that we as a local leader could stay better connected even with other Christian leaders and how they’re responding.

Carey: Yeah. What we want you to do too, we want you to be part of this. So this is not just a panel of experts where David and I are sitting around going here’s what we think, we want you to participate, and we’ll be reporting back every week on the latest trends, the latest insights that we see. And the way to get you and your church involved is to head on over to and you’ll find everything there. This is absolutely free. So you don’t pay a penny for this. Glu, which is powering all the technology behind it and the platforms behind it, is compliant with the strictest privacy standards on planet Earth. They’re always updating, always upgrading their standards. So you don’t have to worry about data privacy or things like that.

Carey: And we just want you to get involved, because we want to know how you’re doing. I mean chances are if you’re listening to this show, you are a pastor, you’re on church staff or you’re an elder board or you’re highly … your work in the marketplace, but you’re highly invested in your local church, so we want to know how you’re doing, but we also think this is an opportunity for you, for free, to start polling your own congregation.

Carey: And even when you drill down a little bit further, you can do community leaders and civic leaders and so on just to check in to see how they’re doing.

Carey: And the part that excites me, David, is long before, you’ve been at Barna for 25 years, which seems unbelievable, because you’re not old, but you started when you were 12.

David: I feel older than I look.

Carey: But I remember when I was a local pastor starting out in the 90s, I used to read Barna’s books. I mean back then it was books. And you would get all these insights and I would always think oh, man, like this is great, but I’d love to know how my church is doing.

Carey: And even very large churches don’t have the means to be able to do their own polling. I mean you have to come up with a significant amount of cash, and it’s a scientific survey and all these things. Well, that changes overnight with the ChurchPulse Weekly where you can start to get meaningful reliable data, and even though it’s industry standard compliant, like to the highest levels, there’s also an option the way we built this out, and I think small church pastors, really any pastors, would find this helpful.

Carey: But if someone at your church decides that they want to self-identify, they have that option. So let’s say they’re isolated, let’s say they’re going through a real crisis or something like that, and they want to connect with someone from your church, they actually have the ability to do that. But that’s their choice, that’s not your choice as the leader.

Carey: So I just can’t believe that those tools are finally available, and I’m very excited that they are. And I’m going to be participating as well as hosting.

Carey: So any other thoughts on just the whole design of the ChurchPulse, really we’re calling it the ChurchPulse crisis toolkit, because there’s a number of things you can use inside that toolkit, all free, that are going to help you lead with data to be data-informed not data-driven, but then you’re actually going to know, oh, this is how it’s really going.

Carey: And one thing I’ll add before I throw it back to you David, is it’s been really touching, but the number of pastors of even large churches who have spent time on the phone, literally all afternoon calling people, calling seniors, calling shut-ins, calling people that they haven’t seen. I don’t think that should stop. But there is a much more efficient way of doing it, and you also get to custom-design this survey. So they’re standard questions you can use, it’s not a lot of work. But if you want to ask something that’s particular or unique to your mission, you can do that for your church. Fair enough?

David: Yeah, that’s all right. And I think to give some context to leaders for this, one of my great privileges as a researcher is to be able to amplify other people’s voices so that leaders can hear and understand that person’s experience. We do collectively most often, that’s a quantitative look, and then when we do it in a focus group or we tell someone story, that’s a qualitative look.

David: And to give leaders quantitative and qualitative insights, not just sort of rumors or social media can be helpful but also can lead us to believe something that’s not true or not true of everyone.

David: So I think that through ChurchPulse Weekly, our goal is to give you a real sense of what’s really happening across our society, across church goers, other leaders. How can we be better connected?

David: And again, it’s just such a privilege. I’m full of hope. Listen, I have as much sense of … we’ve got my kids are home from college, we’re like enjoying the time, but it’s also like we’re all together, there’s an anxiety in the environment, in our world, in our business, across other that we’re talking to. So like anyone, we’re all personally affected by this, but I am full of hope about how the church can respond, and part of it is that I actually believe we can give a better, clearer voice to people, like this moment requires that we listen more carefully to the experiences of the people that we serve. It’s always true that that’s the case, but we sort of can fool ourselves into thinking that week over week, because people show up for church services, that everyone’s doing okay, or at least we can look them in their eye and sort of see how they’re doing. But I think this moment really requires that we do things differently.

David: And that’s what I’m really excited about for ChurchPulse Weekly is having this conversation with you, also just hearing from pastors, like we got data as you said over the last 72 hours from pastors around the country, and then being able to help pastors here from the people that they love the most, and want to serve really well at this critical moment.

Carey: Well, we’ve done an awful lot of guessing as church leaders over the years, I think we’ll talk about this a lot more, but it’s flying by sight not by instruments, and we’re going to have a few new instruments in our toolkit. And please, if you’re listening, don’t just listen, come and participate. Head on over to register your church, if you’re part of a network or a denomination, make sure you select that as well, and let us know how you’re doing, and then you can set yourself and your church up for free to do these assessments and take them weekly is what I hope you would do, and I think when things are changing this quickly, that’s probably something you want to do.

Carey: David, the other thing I want to clarify, because my channels have been blowing up in the last 24 hours with people from around the world who are saying where is this available? So right now, it’s in the United States and Canada that you can participate. Obviously, we’re going to share these insights globally, but this is a survey that right now has capacity to help leaders in the US and Canada.

Carey: And just as a Canadian here on day one of the ChurchPulse Weekly, I would say the engineers are working as we speak in Colorado and beyond, to get Canada fully in the database, but the workaround I got from the Glu team a couple hours ago is … for your postal code, which is a zip code, just entering 99999 and pick a fake state and you’re in. So you know what I pick to register myself? 90210. What [inaudible 00:14:03] zip code, David?

David: I’m sure, I’m sure. We all want to be Californians, don’t we?

Carey: Yeah, we do, we do. Okay, so I want to jump in to … because we have realtime data here, so the results in the first 72 hours, we asked church leaders how they’re doing. And this is the part I love, it’s like quantitative and qualitative. So we’re going to get into is the tendance down, is the tendance up, how did online go, there are some really surprising results in that. How are people connecting with groups? How many churches are online? But I want to start with a big question, which is like how are people doing? And we got some relatively encouraging news on that front, right?

David: Yeah, we heard from more than 500 pastors across different platforms that we’re interviewing, and again, over the last 72 hours. Thank you for those who have given their voice to this, and we encourage more to do so in the coming days. We heard from more than 500 pastors, and overall, what’s pretty cool is that pastors themselves and their families are doing pretty well. So the vast majority of pastors said they themselves are doing well, their families were doing well. About 15% said they’re just doing okay in terms of their families.

David: When we asked them about the people in their congregation, we found that actually they were much less likely to say the people in their congregation were doing very good, to give themselves the strongest score on that scale. But very few pastors said that they were doing poor or very poor, the people in their congregation.

David: But here’s a really interesting stat, 63% of pastors that we interviewed said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the overall wellbeing of the people in their church, either a lot, some, and then another 29% said a little.

David: And so 7% said not at all, and I’m not sure where those pastors are-

Carey: Yeah, where you’re living, I don’t know.

David: But 63%, two out of three pastors say this has been a major impact on the lives of the people that they’re serving.

Carey: But I think what’s making this crisis so challenging to manage is it definitely is a pandemic, and there are huge health implications, and we’re probably heading into harder days on the health front than what we’ve had so far if you listen to the experts, but it’s more than that. It’s the global economic collapse, it’s a massive stimuli by world governments that appeared to not be having nearly the effect that the governments hoped. It’s the shutting down of borders, it’s the social distancing and lockdowns and quarantines and isolation.

Carey: Industries really fighting for their survival like airlines and everything. And we’ve never seen any kind of catastrophic radical overnight change like what we’re navigating right now, that’s I’m glad this is realtime data too is right now, what, 15% said they’re not okay, but give that a week, give that two weeks, give that a month, and so we’re going to be checking in, that’s the idea of like [inaudible 00:17:02], we’re going to be checking this every week.

David: And one of the things that when it comes to sort of the industry of the church, that’s probably not the right phrase, but the work of the church, the things that pastors are most likely to tell us has been impacted is obviously the worship services, though the vas majority of church are going to online worship, we could talk a little bit more about some of those numbers. But small groups and Bible studies, 82% of pastors said that’s already been affected, giving, 64% say their giving has been impacted, most of those, two out of three say their giving has been down over the last weekend or two.

David: Communion, obviously something that’s done typically in person, is another thing that’s been affected.

David: We also found that 10% of pastors said funerals were affected. 8% said baptisms, 9% said weddings, we actually would expect those numbers to increase as sort of the sacerdotal functions of the church is sort of interrupted and disrupted by this pandemic.

Carey: I’ve got the results in front of me too. Just straight up David, on facilities, only 5% and again, this could’ve been a Friday answer that fed into this as opposed to a Sunday answer. But only 5% said their church facilities were open for normal use with some precautions in place.

Carey: So you look at that, I’m sure it’ll be 100% by this coming weekend, but in other words, 95% are saying yeah, even our facilities are radically or significantly changed.

Carey: And that’s such a huge … I was trying to explain to my team, because I’ve run a virtual company for the last five years since I’ve become founding pastor not lead pastor, and I think for those of us who spend a lot of our life online doing podcasting and webcasts like this and sending out email newsletter and writing and so on. It would be as radical as like the whole internet being shut down.

Carey: And now I’ve got a pivot and go well, how do we bring you this without the podcast, right? And for a lot of church leaders, I wonder if it feels like that, it’s like well, yes, we have a website, yes, we have a Facebook page, yes, I have some kind of social media account, but I don’t even remember the password for it. And now, ministry as we have known it, whether you have a contemporary band or a traditional service, but ministry as we’ve known it has basically just shut down entirely, and so leaders are scrambling.

Carey: On that note, David, we got initial data on Sunday attendance … those numbers, it was actually a little bit bleaker than I thought it would be.

David: Yeah, I’d be happy to. So we gave respondents a variety of different sort of choices to choose from, and again, these are senior pastors of churches across the country. And what was interesting is that 31% of pastors over the last 72 hours told us that they don’t stream or do anything online, so in effect, those were some of the few churches that were still open and still met in person, because there were some churches that did that, or they just had no worship, they met in small groups or other kinds of things.

David: But 12% said they don’t know what happened, they don’t have enough metrics or-

Carey: They can’t even track.

David: They can’t even track it. So combined, that was 43% of churches that either don’t know the results of worship attendance or didn’t have a means to track it. And this is part of the premise of the ChurchPulse Weekly really, that we want to give people better measure since you can’t see people face-to-face anymore.

David: And then among those others that reported, 27% said that the church attendance was less, that they had a smaller number than they would’ve typically had in person, 26% said it was higher than they would normally have, and then 5% said it was the same.

David: So we’re seeing a big range of results for churches, partly depending on how internet-ready they are. But also just in general, there is a wide variety of experiences that I think churches are showing.

David: And by the way as you mentioned technology, I mean I sometimes think about the great privilege that we have to be alive during this period of digitization, and I call it digital Babylon. I saw Beth Moore tweeted this morning saying what a privilege that god has chosen us to be alive as a generation to think about and deal with this pandemic, how much more challenging would this be for institutions without the digital technologies that we have. Again, we’re going to have to learn some new lessons as church leaders, I believe. Every industry is going to have to learn new lessons, but what a privilege that we have the tools that we have of technology to be able to help us navigate some of this future together.

Carey: I agree and I think there is a together thing. Anybody who tells you they know exactly what’s going to happen, I wouldn’t trust right now. We’ve never been in this spot before. But I do think we have a god of hope, and we’re trying to find hope and be realistic.

Carey: I think on that whole like Sunday attendance thing, the part that got me, and you’re the data guy, David, so feel free to correct me. But when you look at people who experience higher attendance or much higher attendance, 26%, which basically means 74% would say that their attendance was lower or they didn’t even know. Which when you think about that in the American Church is really … that’s a surprising trend, and that’s a startling trend.

Carey: Now, I don’t think because we started there, we’re going to finish there, but I really feel about the 43% who said we just don’t know or we don’t stream our services online.

Carey: What I want to do on the ChurchPulse Weekly, larger church leaders, try to figure out how you can come alongside some of those people in your community, because that would be the equivalent to this webcast to the internet being shut down.

David: Well, I’m just looking at some of the cross tabs, which is the detailed breakdown, we just started looking at the data this morning, so I haven’t had a chance to look at this, but the churches that had the greatest increases were larger churches, church of 250 or more attenders, as well as actually medium-sized churches did pretty well in terms of growing up. But the majority of all churches did not have more attendance last weekend, but the larger the church, the more likely they were to report higher attendance.

David: And similarly, younger pastors, pastors under the age of 45, were more likely than older pastors to report higher attendance, which just suggests that the younger leaders probably already had in place tools to facilitate online worship.

David: But as you just said, I think this is one of the concerns that we’re looking at as researcher is how will this sort of disruption shake out over the whole church ecosystem, how will smaller churches be abl to respond effectively. And again, listen, there’s not just a simple response where if you can stream services, you’re going to be good and you have no problems, I think we all have to think about these deeper questions of how do we disciple in a digital context, how we grow people, how we continue the work of our churches, how do we become financially sustainable in the ways that are going to be appropriate.

David: But I do think we see this big question, and it’s one of the questions we want to address throughout this ChurchPulse Weekly podcast and other tools is how can larger churches, those that are more suited for this moment, help those smaller congregations or those that are less capable of doing what they need to do over the next …

Carey: … who is the CEO of Glu, and you and I have been on many many calls with Scott over the last seven days getting ready for this moment. And I know that’s something Scott’s raised in his heart, something close to my heart, is this is where the church needs to be for each other, not just survival of the fittest and that kind of thing. We got to come alongside people.

Carey: And when we get the panels on the next episode, we hope to start pointing towards solutions. So right now, we’re kind of reporting, and again, I think anybody who says I got this figured out, buy my five-step plan, don’t trust those people right now, nobody really knows where this is going, but we can start to make data-informed decisions and the data will be updated every day, weekly, and we’ll bring you the weekly report.

Carey: Let’s talk about money, because this is … givings is huge. So there’s two facets to this, David. One is churches that had already moved into digital giving probably have an advantage right now, but that’s not the whole story, because there’s this global economics happening that many people are saying is probably going to plunge us into recession if it hasn’t already, and is far more complicated than most of us in leadership have been through to date in our lives. It makes 08/09 look simple by comparison.

Carey: So as you have millions of people losing their jobs, industries being shut down, small businesses being closed, this is an impact on giving too, what are we seeing there in the early trends?

David: Yeah, so we asked pastors what has happened with financial giving this past weekend, and 62% of leaders said it was down. 38% said it was significantly down, so that’s almost two out of every five leaders. And then one in four, 26%, said it was slightly down, 34% said it stayed about the same, and then 1% each said it increased slightly or increased significantly. So very few churches, while we just talked about the fact that many churches had a big increase in attendance, at least virtually, there were very few churches that are reporting increase in giving. Now-

Carey: So 26% saw a spike in attendance, but only 1% saw a spike in giving.

David: 2% total.

Carey: 2%, sorry. 2% saw a spike in giving. Wow.

David: So it’s a big difference, right? So you even think about the requirements needed to keep the programs going or the mortgages and the staff salaries, which by the way gets us to another point in the data about staffing decisions. We asked leaders what they are contemplating today regarding staffing decisions, all in an anonymous way, and so reducing staff hours, 18% of leaders were considering that. So far no one said they’re considering reducing staff compensation in the options, reducing number of staff was actually a very negligible percent, less than 1%, 4% said they were considering all of those three things, reducing staff hours, reducing compensation or reducing the number of staff. So very few churches so far are reporting that they’re going to be contemplating staff changes, 76% said that none of those were accurate of them. In fact 2% of churches said they were considering adding staff.

David: We didn’t drill down as to what roles those might look like, but again, I think this is a good sort of-

Carey: Yeah, that’s really interesting, and that’s why data is so important, David, because that is not what I was hearing online in social and even in conversations. If you had to ask me what’s happening in the church, I would’ve said it sounds like everybody is laying off people, like literally, the bottom fell out on March 12th, and March 13th, my phone started lighting up with staff layoffs, and I’m like really?

Carey: And yeah, this isn’t a scientific poll, but 500 pastors in, we’re fining that’s actually not true. And that’s why I love having the anchoring reality of statistics to say well, just because you knew thought that they were going to lay everybody off, doesn’t mean that’s where the church is heading initially. And when I was advising people, they’d ask me, I’d like be real careful with that, because you can’t get people back easily, and you might be able to redeploy. Like your facility person may not have much of a job moving forward. I know in my own organization, I’ve got who books my speaking and travel, not much of a job coming up a month from now on that front. But what we can do is we can redeploy her in other areas as we move forward.

David: And I think as a leader of an organization, Barna Group, and as one who advised a lot of different organizations, one of the key things we can be as leaders is a phrase my friend Mark Sayers talks about is a non-anxious presence in times of chaos and crisis. It doesn’t mean we don’t make the tough choices and we don’t contemplate the implications, but again, data as you say is a really good calming force for us to be a non-anxious presence as we’re facing this period of disruption.

Carey: … coming episodes is that we can look at leading through this crisis together, rather than reacting through this crisis together, because it’s very easy to react and the mantra, the first week, we can have has been faith over fear, which is awesome, but you also really need to get some wisdom in this. And the data’s going to help us. And of course the story is just unfolding.

Carey: David, I know, man, we could spend an hour on this, but there was one really surprising thing about when most pastors thought we were going to be back in our buildings.

David: Yeah, so when we asked people, just to give you guys the real detailed question, as of today, when do you think you’ll be able to host church services again in your usual building or locations? And 4% said the end of March, 48% said April. So you’ve got 52% of our leaders who believe that this is going to be a relatively short window. In fact, this corresponds with something we asked a little bit later in the survey about what they’re planning to do for Easter, and we had a large number of people say, 22%, and a lot of those were like they don’t even know quite yet, they’re not making definitive plans for Easter yet.

David: And then 28% said they’ll be back, they think they’ll be back in May, 14% said June, 5% of pastors say they think it’s going to be all the way in July or August. What I think, that as we begin to see … which is interesting, another question we asked was in the nest week, I expect the disruptions related to the coronavirus will get much worse, 37%, get a little worse at 50%. So 87% of pastors, 9 out of 10 believe that the disruptions are going to be increasing in the next week, and I think that’s going to mean a longer runway if pastors are right and if a lot of the experts are right, we’d get a lot longer runway than just a week or two. So it’s interesting that pastors are holding out hope that they’re going to be able to host worship services sooner than later.

David: So we’re going to have to be prepared, we hope this podcast I do is a way for you to have a good solid read of what others are thinking, but also to be prepared for worst case scenarios, and how do we think and prepare and think about becoming different kinds of leaders and people in a new digitally disruptive society. But I think pastors are telling us they believe they’re going to be back in worship services a lot sooner than is probably the case.

Carey: And I get that to a certain extent, there’s so much smoke and dust from the fallout over the last 10 days, it’s hard to even get a straight clear thought about dinner let alone the future.

Carey: But there is a little bit of cognitive dissonance there, if you look at 87% say the situation is probably going to get worse, but we’re going to be back in our buildings, I wonder if that’s like the hope that kind of beats in us, and motivation as great as it is, probably isn’t going to get us through, we need interpretation of data, and then transformation in terms of a plan long-term, and that’s one of the things you and I are going to address, if not in the next episode, then the episode after. We’re going to talk about digital Easter and how to get ready for digital Easter.

Carey: In my heart, really looking at the data for the first time today in this webcast, for the almost half of church leaders who don’t really have a streaming service and don’t have any idea how to do church if it’s not in a building, maybe we can get creative around that and try to figure out, okay, well, here’s one or two roads that might point in a helpful direction.

David: And I think one of the cool things about being a researcher, as I said earlier, was all the ways that you see the signs of hope popping up all over, and we’ve been hearing not only in the data here, but from leaders, Christian leaders of big organizations and small organizations and pastors, just all the ways that they’re all dealing with the sense of anxiety.

David: And by the way, we’ve been talking about life in the anxious age for emerging generations, millennials and gen Z, we did a big study called the connected generation with world vision, and we had the whole first section of that was life in the anxious age about young people feeling the effects of global trends more than they felt loved and supported by those around them.

David: And this is a realtime experiment about how that life in the anxious age is playing out for all of us, the anxiety is at high levels across all of these different places. I think church leaders in this data are showing a showing a real like courageous mostly non-anxious response to the world’s pressures, and I see these incredible signs of hope that we will respond and respond well. I mean even just one of the open-ended responses that came in about what they will do for Easter was we plan to celebrate Easter on the first Sunday, we gather together again.

David: And even just that idea, like let’s celebrate it on April 12th, I think is the date, but let’s celebrate it also-

Carey: Again.

David: … again when we’re together, because we can celebrate the resurrection life whenever we’re … from pastors gives us hope about how they’re trying to respond really creatively to this really set of challenging circumstances.

Carey: You know my mind’s already gone to over the last few days, there will be a point in which we’re back in. I’m with you, I think this is a long-term issue. I don’t think we’re getting back any time soon. Hope I’m wrong, I hope I’m wrong. But can you imagine when we finally get back in and the restrictions are lifted, the parties we’re going to have, the celebration we’re going to have, the worship we’re going to have, it’s going to be great.

Carey: It’s also probably going to be different, and we’re going to get into that in the future shows. In the same way air travel was never the same after 9/11, I think church is shifting in some pretty fundamental ways now too, and that’s why I’m excited about bringing this weekly dialogue. So what we’d love for you guys to do is we would love for you as leaders to jump in and be part of this, we want to know how you’re doing, we want to know how you’re church is doing, and you can do that by going to, registering and participating. Please take the leader poll, we will be back in seven days with fresh information, fresh insights, fresh trends.

Carey: David, again, we hinted at this earlier, but it’s the five dimensions of human flourishing. So if you could give us the nickel tour of each of those dimensions just really quickly. And remember, as we’re measuring these from you, you now get to measure these from your church. So in the next seven days, like actually starting tomorrow, you can actually have data from the people who call your church home. You just email them in a link, say would you please fill out this quick little survey, it’s free to you, it’s free to your church, and you will actually have data where I can ask your church the some questions we ask you as leaders, but you’ll be able to know, particularly in these five categories how people are doing and in other ways as well. So do you want to go through those real quick with us, David?

David: Yeah, I’d be happy to. These five dimensions of flourishing come from a lot of different work that our team has been doing along with our partner, Glu, and some great sociological work about how people flourish.

David: So these five areas include their physical and mental wellbeing, their vocational wellbeing, their jobs, their relationships, their financial wellbeing and their spiritual wellbeing. And this really was the heart behind as we were building this before coronavirus hit, allowing you to check in to connect with the heart of your people, that people flourish, and sometimes they don’t flourish, but we have a responsibility as church leaders not just to get them there every weekend, but to see how well they’re doing and help them grow in all of life.

David: And some of our early research is showing that when people grow spiritually, especially in light of … alongside the life of a church, they actually grow in all these other areas of their life, so people who are church goers are stronger, healthier in a lot of these different ways in their life. And listen, we’ve been really careful that these aren’t just affluent, people that just happen to have a good education or a good life or a good job, these have been really rigorously tested, the ways we ask about these things, they’re flourishing across anyone at any time in their life.

David: And what more important time could there be than now for us to check in with how people are doing when it comes to their physical and mental wellbeing, their vocational wellbeing, their relationships, their finances, and their spiritual life.

David: Again, we think for a number of weeks and probably a number of months, we’re not going to be seeing people physically, so now we have these tools, ChurchPulse Weekly gives you a chance to check in all for free with how people are doing, and then to be able to sort of respond effectively to that.

David: I think even this podcast could be a great model for church leaders to use some of this data in the weeks ahead. Hey, we checked in with you, we heard from you, we saw that 62% of you are concerned or dealing with anxiety when it comes to relationships or your job or your financial picture going forward. So even as you speak to your congregation, to your people, we think this data can help you feel and be more connected to the issues that they’re concerned with.

Carey: I’ve been on numerous calls over the last seven days with leaders who are like what do I talk about this weekend? And I think you’re right, David, this can give people an informed idea of what’s really happening in the hearts and minds of their people, rather than just the people who comment.

Carey: The other thing I would say too is what I like about the ChurchPulse Weekly is it’s all the social research and the scientific methods that you’ve pioneered, well, not pioneered but refined for decades at Barna, in the hands of local church leaders. So you can customize it.

Carey: The other thing you guys need to know, it’s not like 79 questions, this is not going to take half a day to fill out, it’s a few real well-chosen questions that you can get back almost instant information on.

Carey: So we’re going to do this again every single week, which I’m very excited about. Do you have any final thoughts David, as we close out today? Anything we missed, anything that needs underscoring?
David: I’m so excited to be able to work with you, Carey, and then to be building these tools. We really feel like … partner, Glu, and all that we’ve learned over 35 years of Barna’s history, 25 year in my work here, our amazing team that just works so hard to try to serve local church leaders and Christian leaders around the world.

David: We’re also dealing with our own levels of anxiety as people and as a team, but we’re really excited, like the lord just keeps helping me see what a great moment that we have. One of my friends, David, texted over the weekend and said he thought that god is asking us to tear down some of our platforms and then build on him as a foundation in this time. And I just am so excited about how we are going to be changed as leaders to be better prepared for this new arena of ministry, not just digitally, but in this new kind of anxious age and how it is that the truth of the gospel and our faith in Christ changes us from the inside out to be people of hope.
David: And so this is just an incredible opportunity for the church as well as one that we have to face up to the significant challenges that we have in front of us.

Carey: Well, David, I’m really excited. I mean there have been a couple of moments this week where it was tears. Sometimes tears from overwhelm, but also tears of gratitude. I can’t believe that the folks at Glu and you at Barna have been working in the background on this for a long time, and suddenly as you say, for such a time as this, this actually gets into the hands of local church leaders for free, and it’s high quality stuff.

Carey: So we hope you will not just listen, not just watch, for those of you who are watching the livestream, but that you’ll participate. And our goal is to serve you to get alongside to try to figure this out together, we don’t have all the answers, we’re going to bring you some of the thought leaders we have. Can we say, we’ve got a few lined up and many more in the works, but Bobby Gruenewald is going to join us, talk about digital Easter, Nona Jones from Facebook, Henry Cloud, Skye Jethani, and many others.
Carey: So you’re going to hear from a panel of experts, so it’s not just we’re going to bring you a trends update, and then we’re going to do some analysis, and maybe try to find our way through the smoke and the hays of this current season, and move into tomorrow together. And that’ll be updated weekly.

David: Yep, absolutely. So check it out at and again we’re just so grateful to be able to partner with you Carey. We felt like your work with leaders and communicating out and just helping to stay hopeful and positive and clear. We’re just grateful for you, and I’m grateful for your friendship, and happy birthday today by the way.

Carey: Likewise. Oh, thank you, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I thought about it, what a great way to spend a birthday is launching this initiative together with a great friend David, I’ve so appreciated your friendship. And honestly, it’s like a dream come true to be able to work with you, and also to be able to serve leaders during this time of great crisis.

Carey: So I just want you to know leaders, we’re with you 100%, we’re going to try to figure this out together. We really do believe that god is still very much sovereign and moving. And I’ve felt a lot of affinity for the Old Testament over the last week, I’m like, “Oh, those stories resonate a lot more now than they maybe had a year ago.” I’ve always read through scripture year after year, but our god is a god who specializes in situations like this, and to come alongside you to do this together, to find out how you’re doing week to week, and then we’ll be doing this live webcast every Monday at three PM Eastern time, noon Pacific, and then this recording will come out via podcast form a few days later. We’re talking Thursdays. It’s called the ChurchPulse Weekly. So if you’re watching in realtime, you won’t find it populating the internet yet, but within hours, we hope it will be.

Carey: And we’re building this as things go along. We want to hear from you, and thanks for the privilege of serving you. And yeah, we’ll catch up and do this again next week. Thanks for listening, thanks for watching.


4 comments on Introducing ChurchPulse Weekly

  1. Emmy Dicosmo says:

    I needed to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top