COVID-19 hit North America this spring soon after the 10th anniversary of the Network, an online community where CRC folks connect over the “nuts and bolts” of ministry. The website curators say it has been affirming to see how churches have relied on the site at this time.
The increased usage highlights the need for churches to connect. The Network has developed a high profile; it has become widely known and has been a useful tool as churches figure out how to adapt.
“Since the Network is one of the primary ways that CRC ministries share resources with churches, we're thrilled to see that Network pageviews are rising during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Sandy Swartzentruber, resource coordinator for Faith Formation Ministries.
“We're doing our best to anticipate and respond to needs that churches have in this confusing time, and our hope and prayer is that we can be helpful.”
This past spring, pageviews of the Network were up 44 percent compared to the spring of 2019. Meanwhile, comments are up 47 percent, and ministry Q&As are up 35 percent.
A few individual posts have had over 10,000 views (and growing), including the following:
9 Key Tips for Planning an Online Worship Service — This post was published in mid-March as “stay at home” orders were being issued and churches were looking for practical help.
Coronavirus Challenge and Photo Scavenger Hunt for Youth — The popularity of this post shows the desire of churches to connect with their youth in fun and creative ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statement about the Deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor - With over 14,000 views, this has been the most-read post of the year. Across the U.S. and Canada, individuals and churches are grappling with racism in unprecedented ways.
Since March, over 100 new posts have been published in the Faith Nurture section of the Network. The titles of the posts serve as a journal of sorts, highlighting the passing of time and how different things look this year.
Here are some examples:
How to Help Families Celebrate Holy Week at Home
A Moving Mother's Day Video for Online Worship
Does Worshiping at Home Feel Awkward? You’re Not Alone
Small Groups and House Churches in Partial Reopening
“When we launched the Network ten years ago, we hoped it would be a place where the average church volunteer could connect with people in other churches who do what they do,” says Tim Postuma, codirector of Ministry Support Services. “Of course, we had no idea that exactly 10 years later, churches would be facing a pandemic that affected nearly every aspect of their ministry.”
“The need to lean on and learn from each other has been greater than ever,” says Postuma. And, judging from the Network’s traffic data, it seems church members and staff are doing just that.