Coronavirus closures have mixed effects on churches’ income

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ministry is a calling that pastors say comes with a price tag.

“Salvation is free, but ministry is very expensive,” Jathan Austin, pastor of Bethel Empowerment Church, told News 8. “It’s expensive to be online; it’s expensive to still provide those resources to make ourselves available.”

Though there wasn’t a soul in sight at the church in Grandville Friday, the spirit of giving lingers. The Davis family, part of Austin’s congregation, tithes from their dinner table.

“My family and I make it a priority to still give,” Juanita Davis said.

As members continue worshiping from home, they tithe online, through an app or mail checks to the church. The money keeps Bethel afloat during the uncertainty of the closures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

“Our giving went up during this pandemic time,” Austin said.

It went down for No Greater Love Ministries in southeast Grand Rapids.

“The people are not here, so when they people are not here, some of them just don’t give like they normally give,” Pastor Willie Waver explained.

He said some are holding back because their finances have taken a hit and bills keep coming. He said it’s challenging to keep the church’s lights on.

“God’s going to work it out,” Waver said.

What lies ahead for worship leaders remains a mystery, but’s what’s clear for them is that this crisis, too, shall pass.

“That’s been the message for us,” Austin said.

Regardless of how each church may be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, worshipers said they’ll continue operating in faith, not fear.