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How Dare to Imagine Church Has Been Able to Flourish in a Pandemic

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

You would think that in the midst of a global pandemic where you must stay 6 feet away from each other and there must be a limited amount of people in one space, that a church would struggle during this time. And for most churches that was the case, but against all odds Dare to Imagine Church located in the East Mount Airy section of Philadelphia was able to improve the annual revenue by 125% and as the vaccine becomes available to more and more people the church is starting to get back to some sort of normalcy pre-pandemic. Dare to Imagine Church is a nondenominational Christian church founded in November 2014 by Pastor Kevin Johnson and his wife Kimya Johnson in their home where they invited 20 people to their home to hear about their vision. A month later, they had a worship service at one of the church members’ houses and 72 people came and 57 people joined. In only three years, Dare to Imagine purchased its 6.8 acres of land for $2.2 million on May 25th, 2017 and they have been there ever since. In March 2020 I came back to my home in Philadelphia after being sent back home from my college. The summer before I went to college I was part of the video, sound, and lighting team that records the worship services each Sunday and I continued to be part of that ministry when I came back. Although many churches decided to shut down in-person services, Dare to Imagine always had their doors open as a place for people to worship, especially during the troubling and unprecedented times we were in. I asked Pastor Johnson why he chose to have the doors open at the beginning of the pandemic. “I come from a tradition that under no circumstances should the doors of the church be closed,” Pastor Johnson said. I’ve worked at churches where most businesses closed due to weather or other factors but the church remained open. So that has been ingrained in me to keep the church open… Hospitals don’t close so churches don’t close.” It was big for Pastor Johnson to keep the church open so he could give members the option on whether they wanted to worship inside or watch online. It was important to keep the church open so that the members of the church do not lose hope. Many members have lost their jobs and loved ones because of COVID-19 and Pastor Johnson wanted to be the church to be that resource for the community. Although Dare to Imagine still had the doors open to worship inside the sanctuary, most members used common sense and stayed home and Pastor Johnson geared his worship services to the live stream. During the year 2020, the church saw an increase in revenue compared to 2019. In 2019, the budget was $895,000 and it increased to over $1.1 million. One of the reasons Pastor Johnson attributed the growth of the church is because of the technology the church had prior to the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 85% of the church members gave their tithes and offerings electronically, now that number is over 95%. Dare to Imagine had a giving portal since December of 2014 so they already layed out the foundation for their members to give electronically so it was a seamless transition during the pandemic. Another way the church kept its members connected was by streaming the worship services on various platforms like Facebook Live, Youtube, and on the Dare to Imagine website. The church has two services at 9 am and at 11 am every Sunday and there are two different live streams for each worship service. The third way the church saw a growth in their budget was by having Praise in the Park. Praise in the park is an outdoor worship service the church had that went from July 2020 through the first week of November. This allowed members to be more comfortable coming to church in person because they were able to socially distance themselves outside. I talked with a young member from the church, Wayne Prater who is a part of the video, sounding, and lighting team (VSL). Wayne has been a member of the church since February 2019 and he has been heavily involved in the church since he joined. I asked Wayne how Dare to Imagine has blessed his life since he joined. “Joining Dare to Imagine helped me with a lot of things, like in school, out of school, and keeping me off the streets and out of trouble,” Wayne said. Wayne said that particularly being a part of the VSL ministry helped him learn how to work multiple different cameras, the functions that they have, and the different ways to use lighting to help bring out the best quality video. Wayne and many others have been blessed by Dare to Imagine and the different ministries in the church have helped change people’s lives. It seems unprecedented that a church’s budget increases in the middle of the pandemic but it’s evident that the use of technology and helping the community in Philadelphia contributed to the growth of the church during COVID-19.






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