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What Is So Special About Worshiping Outside?

We are worshipping outside because of COVID, but something unexpected is happening.

While most churches are currently reporting Sunday attendance about 50-75% of what it was pre-COVID, our Sunday attendance is about 110% of what is was pre-COVID. That’s higher! While studies have shown that about 1-3% of visitors eventually join a congregation, we’re finding that closer to 30% of visitors return and join us. After five years of attendance decline, this change is surprising. Even shocking. Why are we growing for the first time in a long time?

Some of it is COVID, I think, which pushed many into a spiritual examination and sent us searching for a life of discipleship. Some of it is the faithfulness and welcoming stance of our church! I’m told that some of it is the energy that I bring to pastoring. But I think being outside is playing a major role.

What is so special about worshipping outside? Here are a few possibilities:

• For some it’s a sense of safety — they can worship without worry of catching COVID. Feeling safe matters.

• Outside has always been a special environment for encountering God. Camp ministry has taught us that.

• Ceiling is so high and we think differently. When we are outside, we can see so much farther, calling us into the infinity of God. When we are outside, we listen better and our energy is better.

• We arrive to worship and get busy. The whole church jumps in and sets up our sacred space outside. Without an awkward standing around time before worship, visitors feel more comfortable.

Why do you think our church is growing? How do you think being outside might be part of that? (Email me at

Join us at worship this Sunday 10:30am — stay warm in your car listening through your car radio, or join me outside dressed for the weather.

Thanks be to God!!

— Pastor Mia

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