Robert Kirby: Church won’t be the same after COVID-19

Robert Kirby

Few things will be the same when (if) we make it through this current pandemic. It’s almost certain that our previous definition of normal will have changed.

A good example is how online shopping has taken off. Who wants to wander a store on a bad knee looking for some obscure item when it’s possible to find it online in under a minute and have it delivered in 48 hours?

The same is true of movies. Why pay $8 for the “convenience” of someone else popping a nickel’s worth of corn, when you can stay home and watch the film in your underwear while eating whatever you want in bed?

Church will definitely face similar issues. After so much time off, it’s questionable whether churches will regain their complete congregations.

Makes sense. How many will consider it worthwhile to gather in a room once a week and listen to yet another lesson on the importance of gathering in a room once a week to listen to a lesson?

I can’t be the only one who has thought about this. My guess is that attendance will take a hit after people have had a chance to not miss it all that much.

The divorce rate after COVID-19 is expected to skyrocket, so it stands to reason that church attendance will take a hit.

This isn’t an argument for not attending church. Rather just a statement that some may have concluded Sunday is better spent in family activities like picnicking, fishing, visiting relatives, or even blowing [stuff] up.

I plan to go back — not because it’s an alleged commandment, but for the sake of convenience. My Latter-day Saint ward has the highest density of people I care about. And I’ve actually missed them. Well, most of them.

If you already think church is a waste of time, that’s OK. Not everyone is suited for the same thing. We all have different needs and expectations.

But church will have to change to get everyone back. The old way of worship may not work, now that the orthodox have had a taste of Sunday freedom.

“Hey, we didn’t go to church for months and there were no plagues or curses. What say we push our luck and stay home some more?”

Granted, this all assumes that we live through the pandemic while hanging onto our religious beliefs.

To bolster flagging attendance, Utah’s predominant faith may want to consider an after-church snack bar, internet connections in pews, and a hot-walking service for hyperactive toddlers.

There’s no reason why live services cannot continue online as an alternative to those who can’t be bothered to get dressed up and participate in person.

Know what’s better than congregational worship on a pew? Worshipping in a recliner at home with a dog in your lap. Not many things make me ponder the purpose of life more deeply than rubbing the floppy ear of an animal that worships me.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.