AUSTIN, Texas — As the old nursery rhyme goes, "This is the church, this is the steeple, open it's doors and where's all the people?"
It turns out, the people are all online.
"For 2,000 years, churches have been gathering regularly, we've been instructed to do so, there's something special about human interaction and we're learning how special that is in the season of being away," said Ross Lester, pastor of The Austin Stone, the West Campus location.
Megachurches like Austin Stone, with thousands of members and several locations, have had to reformat their worship experience.
"For three weeks, we haven't gathered in any shape or form but we're trying to keep our people connected, so we offer online Sunday services, online interactive Wednesday night prayer gatherings," said Lester.
Gateway, another large church with locations across Central Texas, is in a series called "Letting Go of Control." They also offer classes on how to cope with the pandemic.
"One is called 'How Not to Be a Monster,' and another is called 'Maximizing Marriage Even When You're Trapped Together,'" said Eric Bryant, pastor of Gateway Church South Austin.
With Easter just around the corner, Bryant said this year will be different.
"In many ways, it's disappointing. Easter is such a day to celebrate, the hope that we have, there is hope after death," said Bryant. "But at the same time, I think it's an opportunity for people who wouldn't usually come on Easter to open up their laptop."
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