the shape of leadership

Back to ‘Normal’ May Take a While

Poll sheds light on attitudes amid the pandemic

As states begin to reopen amid the pandemic, many church leaders are wondering what an eventual return to in-person services may look like. Will people show up when the church doors finally open? What will it take for attenders to feel comfortable and safe?

A new Gallup Poll sheds light on how U.S. adults feel about getting back to their routines. While the poll doesn’t specifically address in-person church attendance, respondents identified their conditions for resuming normal activities.

Majorities said these conditions were “very important”:

Online church may be the preferred option of many for an extended period of time.
  • Mandatory quarantine for individuals testing positive for COVID-19 (80%)
  • Improved medical treatments for coronavirus patients (77%)
  • A significant decline in new cases or deaths (73%)
  • Vaccine availability (68%)
  • Widespread testing to identify and monitor cases (61%)
  • Capacity for new patients in area hospitals (59%)
  • Social distancing requirements of six feet apart (51%)

In addition, 47% said it was “very important” that masks be required and that contact tracing of positive cases be widely available. About 4 in 10 (39%) identified the lifting of state stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements as very important, and 27% said it was very important to see mandatory temperature checks for people entering public buildings.

Although Republicans were less likely than Democrats and Independents to say most of these conditions were very important, majorities of Republicans nevertheless identified the top four requirements (quarantine, medical advancements, declining trend, and vaccine) as very important.

Women were more likely than men to see these measures as very important. However, majorities of both genders agreed on many of the points.

If these figures are any indication of how churchgoers feel, online church may be the preferred option of many for an extended period of time. And when people do show up, they will likely expect to see that safety is a major priority.

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