‘The Curve’: Current Trends brought about by the Covid-19 Crisis

In March 2020, the world became fixated on the curve. Daily, billions of people eagerly watched the curve’s movements to see the nightmare of the Covid-19 pandemic unfold and be visually represented on a graph. The curve represents billions of stories of those who had contracted Covid-19 along those who faced the onslaught of its effects on relationships, churches, workplaces, schools, sports, travel and politics. While the curve only accurately depicts the data of two variables (time and number tested positive), the following trends look at the host of other factors that have come into play since March 2020. The aim of this research is to equip church leaders with concise information that would be valuable for them in making short-term and long-term decisions for those they lead. 

Information and trends are not the basis of hope. Christ is hope incarnate. His resurrection proves that no matter how dire the curve lines trend, that He is still powerful enough to bring life out of death. God’s mission to bring hope through the gospel and His Church has not changed. The gospel continues to flourish and bear fruit all over the world in ways a line graph could never represent. However, the means to fulfill the Great Commission during this time require great flexibility and adaptability. May the following trends provide helpful insight as you preach the gospel and build His Church during this time. 


1. An acceleration of many trends. 

Call for racial justice. There are few factors to help explain millions more actively seeking racial injustices in society to be acknowledged and addressed. Firstly, millions of young people are attending school and millions of workers are working remotely during this time. As a result, websites like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are used at a much higher frequency. Video depictions of George Flyod’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s death have spread quickly and the response has been immediate and widespread on social media. Secondly, minority communities are adversely affected by the virus, which has been a further indication of the racial inequities within the country (detailed later on). Thirdly, community building forums such as schools, sports, houses of worship, in-person workplaces and neighborhood gatherings have ceased resulting in a lack of social discourse and dialogue; which further builds up frustration and causes tension. A recent Barna study “shows that over half of Millennials (51%) and Gen Z (54%) would say our country “definitely” has a race problem” (#45).

Internet dependency, working and attending school remotely. Schools, churches, health care providers and businesses have had to adapt to online platforms to survive. Many other sectors are using online platforms for the first time (doctors, therapists, gyms, etc.). Some or most of these practices will continue into the future. Businesses such as Twitter and Google, and many others, have employees working from home for the foreseeable future. As a result, commuting, hiring, where employees live (as many are moving out of expensive areas) and the very nature of work and school are changing (#40). 

Decline in church attendance. Nearly every state has placed restrictions on gatherings and as of late August 2020, 40 percent of churches in America are still completely closed, according to a recent Barna study (#46). Closures have only accelerated the trend of people leaving the church. Barna research states that upward of 30 percent of Christians have left their church all together and 1 out of 5 young adults raised with a Christian background has left the faith entirely (#45). 

Individualism/ isolation. Quarantine stripped most people of public forums – schools, work, church, sports, hobbies, civil engagement and entertainment venues and drove everyone online at home. Reengagement into these public forums will be staggered and slow, which will only exacerbate the trend towards individualism and isolation. 

Online shopping. This pandemic has dramatically increased those who online shop along and increased the goods they are shopping for. Amazon completes one-third of all online sales and has proven ability to fulfill orders successfully and within a short time span. As a result, Amazon has created a loyal customer base who is now been to fulfill orders have created customers who are now increasingly dependent on their services (#42). This trend has and will lead to further mall and retail closures (#32). 

Technology driving food ordering, delivery and growth. The very nature of how we buy groceries and order coffee and take-out has also shifted dramatically since March and those practices are likely to continue. Curbside pick-up is almost universal for grocery chains and most coffee and chain restaurants have called customers to use their app or online orders. These new practices, at least in the short-term, are requiring extra staffing. For example, Chipotle hired 10,000 employees to prepare for this shift (#25 & 27). Online ordering has become vastly more popular and those restaurants that have been slow to adapt will likely be held behind. Instacart and grocery delivery companies continue to see steady increases (#49). 

Streaming entertainment. Streaming services have added up to 30 percent of subscribers. Netflix has added over 26 million subscribers since the beginning of the year. Streaming services  will likely be a dominant source of original content and production (#33). 

Cashless society. Americans were already using less cash but now most businesses will not accept cash payment, which therefore has driven us to be an increasingly cashless society (#34).  

2.  A sudden reversal of some trends. 

Flight to suburbs/rural areas. In the last 15 years there was a move to the cities. Since March,  city dwellers are moving by the thousands to the suburbs and rural areas to escape the ‘super-spreader’ zones of the dense inner city. This is seen dramatically with New York City and San Francisco (#4). 

“The future of transportation is personal.” Some had predicted that car ownership would decline and rather be replaced by car services (Uber, Lyft) along with an expansion of public transport. Rather the reverse is happening as private cars and other personal transportation devices (bikes, scooters, etc,) which provide safe transport away from other people (#34). Cities are building infrastructure to accommodate new commuting patterns (#44).  

Economic nosedive. In January 2020, the U.S. economy was booming and there was a four percent unemployment rate. In April, that number had skyrocketed to 14 percent, and improved at 11 percent in June. In the second quarter of 2020, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rates have fallen by a staggering 33 percent (#47). While employment and production are up as of September, experts predict that a best-case scenario is that the economy will recover in 2022 (#48). 

Airline travel dramatically down & the nature of travel has changed. At the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in America in early March, airline travel decreased by 95 percent as compared to March 2019. Airline travel in September of this year has only rebounded to 60 percent of its 2019 levels. The lack of airline travel has produced several ripple effects including – widespread layoffs in the airline industry (including manufacturing) and a steep decline in jobs and revenue for all hospitality and travel industries including hotels, travel transport, amusement parks, restaurants, merchandising, etc. Several small or regional airports have also closed as a result of the crisis (#50). 

Crime rates up. “A Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities found that reported homicides were up 24 percent so far this year.” Police and academics who study the nature and trends in crime contribute to the pandemic and the ensuing recession as chief causes (#41).

3. Mental Health Crisis

Depression, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, broken relationships, suicidal attempts and suicide are all vastly on the rise. Suicide is on the rise and suicide prevention hotlines report a 65 percent increase in the number of calls. All people are feeling the effects to some degree, but others are much more adversely affected (#2). Mental health professionals and institutions were already under strain and underfunded and this crisis has only put additional pressure on those vital services (#4). 

Children as well face a mental health crisis. Doctors report that stresses on the family life, additional screen time, lack of socialization, exercise and routine and  sleep disruption are leading children to anxiety and the long-term consequences are yet to be fully known (#29). 

4. Disparity in health, economic wealth and education between races and socio-economic classes and nations. 


The rates of infection of poorer African-American and Latino Americans by Covid-19 far surpassed the rates by white and Asian-Americans. Pre-existing health crises affecting poorer communities (which are disproportionately represented by minority groups) such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, obesity and an inability to access adequate preventive and ongoing medical care renders those experiencing poverty at much higher risk. African-Americans and Latinos working in manufacturing, food service and service jobs are also at a higher risk because their jobs are in-person only and therefore these employees are potentially exposed to Covid-19 more frequently (#38). 

Economic Wealth

African-Americans and Latinos have been hit particularly hard economically from the crisis, as compared to white and Asian-Americans. Jobs in the service sector, food services, travel industry and restaurant industry have been hit particularly hard. These sectors are staffed primarily by Latino and African-Americans (#38). 


Remote learning has only widened the achievement gap between Latinos and African-Americans and white and Asian-American students. The achievement gap has persisted up to this point because of the lack of quality administrators and teachers, funding, facilities and resources for low income and minority students. Remote learning has caused a further divide as many low income children do not have computers with fast or reliable internet connection and/or a parent that is home during the day to help their child through school. Students who received extra support at school (namely special education and bilingual students) have generally not received equivalent support through online learning. Free school meals suddenly stopped with the closures of schools, which further put a strain on families who had relied upon those meals for their children (#28).

Gap between Developed and Developing Nations Grows Even Wider.

The Covid-19 crisis has only widened the gap between the nations that ‘have’ and the nations that ‘have-not.’ Developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico, India and South Africa have faced high rates of Covid-19 infections and a severe economic fallout. In South Africa, the GDP fell 50 percent this year, while the nation was already facing double-digit unemployment (#52). Sadly, developing economies will likely struggle for years with the Covid-19 disease and economic recession because the vaccine (which provides hope for rebound) will likely be slower to reach developing economies. On the other hand,  America, China, Russia, the U.K. and the European Union are spending billions to develop, manufacture and distribute a vaccine to their citizens and those nations/regions will likely have a speedier health and economic rebound (#51). 

5. Tribalism / Individualism/ Hyper Politicism / Division caused by a lack of forums and institutions that bring people together (churches, schools and sports). 

By and large, the unity experienced at the onset of the crisis has dissipated to hyper tribalism, hyper individuality and hyper division. Freedom continues to be the dominant value in America (#36). Friction points emerge, as is expected, when one person’s freedom infringes on another’s (#2). The church has become a battleground for these divisions. Divisions that existed before the crisis (race, politics, theology) have become more apparent and more strained. New divisions have also emerged – namely response to the government protocols and the wearing or not wearing of masks (#37). 

6. Strain on marriages and families. 

The compounding stressors of health, finance, uncertainty and closures of schools have adversely affected families. Some are predicting that divorce rates could increase by 10 – 25 percent. Domestic violence is also on the rise. From March to May the calls into the National Domestic Violence Hotline have increased by nine percent (#43). 

Works Cited  

Listed by author’s research date (not in alphabetical order).

1. Hood, Jason. “How to Imitate Biblical Heroes.” The Gospel Coalition, www.tgc.com. 6 May 2020.  

2. Laxton, Jason. “Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on the Church in America.” Christiantiy Today, www.christianitytoday.com. 6 May 2020. 

3. Sayers, Mark. Disappearing Church. Moody Publishers, 2016. 

4. “The Coronavirus Pandemic is Pushing America into a Mental Health Crisis” William Wan, MSN, www.msn.com.  4 May 2020. 

5. Fulton, William. “How the COVID-19 Pandemic will Change our Cities.”Kinder Rice Institute for Urban Research, https://kinder.rice.edu/urbanedge/2020/03/30/how-covid-19-pandemic-will-change-our-cities. 29 March 2020. 

6. Bunt, Andrew. “Learning to Bear Loss.” Think Theology, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/learning_to_bear_loss.25 April 2020. 

7. Whiting, Kate, “A Science Journalist Explains how the Spanish Flu Changed the World. We Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid-19-how-spanish-flu-changed-world/. 30 April 2020. 

8. Florida, Richard, et al. “How Life in Our Cities Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Foreign Policy, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/01/future-of-cities-urban-life-after-coronavirus-pandemic. 1 May 2020. 

9. Vetal, Christine. “Fear, Isolation, Depression: The Mental Health Fallout of a Worldwide Pandemic.” Pew Trust, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2020/05/12/fear-isolation-depression-the-mental-health-fallout-of-a-worldwide-pandemic. 12 May 2020. 

10. Panceski, Bojan. “Forgotten Pandemic Offers Contrast to Today’s Coronavirus Lockdowns.” Wall Street Journal, ww.wsj.com. 24 April 2020. 

11. Douglas, Jason. “Ending Coronavirus Lockdowns Without a How-To Guide.” Wall Street Journal, ww.wsj.com. 14 May 200. 

12 –  Carter, Jimmy. “Crisis of Confidence Speech.” American Rhetoric, https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jimmycartercrisisofconfidence.htm. 15 July 1979.

13. Ip, Greg, et al. “Lessons for the Coronavirus Crisis From Six Other Disasters.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 20 March 2020.  

14.  Sider, Alison et al. “The New Way of Flying Includes a Hefty New Rule Book.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com.19 May 2020. 

15. McLaughlin, Rebecca. “Going to Church Could Save Your Life.” The Gospel Coalition,   https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/church-save-your-life. 29 May 2020.  |  

16 . Kiernan, Paul. “CBO Says Economy Could Take Nearly 10 Years to Catch Up After Coronavirus.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 1 June 2020. 

17. Quick, Jonathan. “What We Can Learn From the 20th Century’s Deadliest Pandemic.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 6March 2020.

18. McCracken, Brett. “We Need Prophets, Not Partisans.” The Gospel Coalition, |  www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/prophets-not-partisans. 2 March 2020. 

19. Margolis, Michele. “When Politicians Determine Your Religious Beliefs.” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/opinion/religion-republican-democrat.html. 11 July 2018.  

20. Dezember, Ryan. “Cleveland is a House Flipping Hot-Spot, and Covid is Helping.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 8 June 2020. 

21. Anarsi, Talal. “U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Pass 108,000; India Reports Its Highest Daily Toll.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 5 June 2020. 

22 . McNeil, Brenda Salter. Roadmap to Reconciliation. IVP Books, 2015. 

23. Lewis, Michael.  “Pandemic as Urban Planner.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 6 June 2020. 

24. Haddon, Heather. “Coronavirus Speeds Up Starbucks Shift to Takeout.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 6 June 2020. 

25. Salam, Reihan.  “Is Another Exodus Ahead for the U.S. Cities?” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 18 June 2020. 

26. Emont, Jon. “Developing World Loses Billions in Money From Migrant Workers.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 15 June 2020. 

27. Maidenburg, Micah. “Chipotle Adds Drive-Through Lanes and Staff.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 15 July 2020.  

28. Hobbs, Tawnell. “‘Are They Setting My Children Up for Failure?’ Remote Learning Widens the Education Gap.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 15 July 2020. 

29. Chaker, Anne Marie. “Has Covid Brought an End to Helicopter Parenting?” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 14 July 2020. 

30.Blinder, Alan. “The Economy Won’t Get Healthier While America Gets Sicker.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 16 July 2020. 

31. Abbott, Brianna and Douglas, Jason. “How Deadly Is Covid-19? Researchers Are Getting Closer to an Answer.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 21 July 2020. 

32. Santiago, Luis and Kapner, Suzanne. “Which Stores Are Opening or Closing Amid the Covid Retail Shakeout?” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 16 July 2020. 

33. Flint, Joe. “Netflix Names Ted Sarandos Co-CEO, Adds 10 Million Subscribers.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com.16 July 2020.

34. Semeraro, Steven. “Card Fees Really Aren’t a Burden on the Poor.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 30 June 2020. 

35.  Florsheim, Lane. “The Future of Transportation Is Personal.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 7 July 2020. 

36 Bellah, Robert, et al. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. University of California Press, 2008. 

37. McCracken, Brett. “4 Reasons to Wear a Mask, Even if you Hate it.” The Gospel Coalition, tgc.com. 1 July 2020.

38. Caldwell, Alicia. “As Covid-19 Cases Surge, Latino Communities Feel the Brunt.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 15 July 2020. 

42. Herrera, Sebastian & Merrill Sherman. “Coronavirus Hobbled Amazon. How the Tech Giant Rebounded for Its Best Earnings Ever.” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-hobbled-amazon-then-the-tech-giant-bounced-back-11596708000?mod=hp_lead_pos11. 6 August 2020. 

43.  Chaker, Anne Marie. “The Strain the Covid Pandemic Is Putting on Marriages.” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-strain-the-covid-pandemic-is-putting-on-marriages-11596551839?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3. 4 August 2020. 

44. Robinson, Joshua. “Coronavirus Accelerates Plans to Put Urban Commuters on Bicycles.” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-accelerates-plans-to-put-urban-commuters-on-bicycles-11596208490?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=5. 31 July 2020.

45. “5 Tends Shaping the Next Season of Next Gen Discipleship.Barna Group, barna.com. 19 August, 2020. 

46. “ChurchPulse Weekly Podcast: Mark Batterson on Pastoring in a Digital Age, Part 1.” Barna Group, barna.com. 26 August, 2020. 

47. Cox, Jeff. “Second-quarter GDP Plunged by Worst-ever 32.9% Amid Virus-induced Shutdown.” CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/us-gdp-q2-2020-first-reading.html. 30 July 2020. 

48. Hannon, Paul and Jason Douglas.“Global Economic Recovery Shows Signs of Slowing.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 11 September 2020. 

49. Ip, Greg and Angus Loten.“Most Businesses Were Unprepared for Covid-19. Domino’s Delivered.” Wall Street Journal, wsj.com. 4 September 2020. 

50. Sindreu, Jon. “Airline Aid Is Ending. Regional Flights May Suffer the Most.” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/airline-aid-is-ending-regional-flights-may-suffer-the-most-11599822330?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=9. 11 September 2020.

51. Rivas, Ana, Peter Loftus and Alberto Cervantes. “Covid-19 Vaccines: What’s Coming and When?” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-vaccines-whats-coming-and-when-11598882964?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1. 16 September 2020. 

52. Dadi Patel, Aaisha  and Gabriele Steinhauser. “South Africa’s Economy Shrinks 51% as Lockdown Restrictions Hurt Businesses.” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/south-africas-economy-shrinks-51-as-lockdown-restrictions-hurt-businesses-11599563965?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=5. 8 September 2020.