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The church in crisis: The Standard

by kenya-tribune

Shahidihub Africa Director Rev Elkana Cheboi (center) flanked by other officials addressing the press in Nakuru on June 24, 2020 during the release of a report on the effects of Covid-19 on churches in Kenya. (Kipsang Joseph, Standard)

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented the churches with a crisis of monumental scale and will force radical shifts in the Christian society, a report by a religious research group has revealed.

According to the report released on Wednesday in Nakuru by Shahidi Hub Africa, church offerings and tithes have dropped by 85 per cent as most institutions face financial crisis.
The survey done in 33 counties -involving 429 church leaders and carried out between May 22 and June 20, revealed that 79.2 per cent of the churches have managed to transition online while 20.7 per cent have not.
The research was released 100 days after in-person services were stopped by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus.
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It reveals that 37.5 percent of the churches recorded below 50 per cent offerings while 23 per cent received below 25 per cent of normal givings. At least 29.1 per cent of the churches collected below 10 per cent.
The report, however, showed that 3.26 per cent of the churches noticed offerings and tithes went up more than the usual while 6.9 per cent thought that the offerings were close to the same.
The research covered 161 churches across all denominations in the past one month.
Overall, 85 per cent thought that giving was below 50 per cent, explaining why most churches reported significant financial constraints that impaired functioning of church activities.
“Nevertheless, based on the findings, it is worth noting that church members have continued to give toward activities of the church, despite the prevailing conditions,” Elkanah Cheboi, the director of the organization and lead researcher said.
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Dr. Cheboi added that the poll also revealed that some churches were finding it hard paying the leased or hired venues and salaries to hired staff while also financing outreach services.
And while 79 per cent of churches managed to transition to online platforms, another 21 per cent were not able to transition in the first 100 days since the in-person services stopped.
According to the report, financial constraints, poor network connectivity, lack of smartphones coupled up with lack of tech-savvy skills topped the reasons why some churches are yet to transition to online.
The financial crisis pegged on to the reason why the majority of church leaders want churches to be re-opened.
Due to the dwindling resources and new vote heads in online technology, most pastors and church staff were hit hard financially with most failing to earn salaries.
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Administratively, 20 per cent of church leaders think that it has become hard mobilizing their members for any cause.
“At least 13 per cent of churches on leased/rented property are finding it hard to raise rental money,” William Koros, a member of the research team said.
Dr Koros added that only 4 per cent of churches, during the pandemic period are not facing any administrative challenges.
On the readiness of churches to reopen for worship services, the report indicated that 79 per cent of pastors have put in place measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Another 21 per cent of church leaders and pastors recommended churches remain closed until the pandemic is eliminated or the curve flattened.
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