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Snowstorm Reality: What Churches Do When it's Too Cold To Go to Church

01-07-2018

Record-breaking cold along the East Coast this weekend means thousands of worshippers will likely not show up at church on Sunday morning.  But many churches will be ready, with pastors preparing to share sermons and even mini-devotionals online.

"I think pastors are trying to do anything they can do to get the Word out and not miss a Sunday," said Brandon Pickett, who helps to oversee 700 Southern Baptist churches in Virginia as associate executive director of the SBC of Virginia. 

Pickett says a number of pastors are turning to Facebook Live to share messages during periods of extreme weather when most can't physically make it to the church. Others will tape a message and put it on their website.    

Pastor AJ Moore blogged about the situation on Friday noting, "canceled services no longer have to mean skipping church entirely."  The associate pastor of The Way church in Indianapolis says he's seeing pastors take advantage of live streaming on a variety of social platforms besides Facebook, including Instagram and Periscope.  

Moore says going online not only helps to keep church members connected and in the Word, it can help them keep consistent with giving. 

With an online service, pastors can let their congregation know how to contribute an offering via their smartphone or computer.  

And even if they're not providing an online service or message, churches can send a link to the church's online giving form with a church-wide email or on social media.  

Pastor Rod Loy leads the First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas and went online for the first time about 10 years ago.  Today, he says, there's a service offered online all the time.  

"Every 90 minutes, always, there's a service," he told CBN News.  

The numbers spike 10-15 percent when the weather is bad. Loy says he's never had to actually cancel church but knows some don't always feel safe to drive in.

Loy admits times have changed when it comes to bad weather negatively affecting churches.  "In the old days, that just meant they missed," he said, "now your total numbers are up when the weather is bad. It's completely different."

Loy also admits that he's still getting used to ministering to people who aren't physically present with him in the sanctuary.  

"My generation thinks community can't happen unless we're face to face but the fact is that with the generation coming up community is accomplished in a different way," he explained. 

Still, some churches haven't gone online and only offer traditional 'we're all in the pews' services.  For those churches, bad weather can create some issues.  

"We try to have services at all costs, even if only a few can make it," said Ben Vrbicek, teaching pastor at the Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  And most of the time, it works out.  

But two years ago, Vrbicek says a "small snow apocalypse" dropped 30 inches in one weekend.  

"We canceled church and I worshipped with my family at home," he said.

 

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