Asbury Scholar Publishes Article on Digital Church Pandemic Practices – Asbury University
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Asbury Scholar Publishes Article on Digital Church Pandemic Practices

March 2, 2023

Professor Todd Wold recently published an article about digital church pandemic practices in the Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture. His article, “Fear Not, for I Am with You Again (Socially Distanced): A Qualitative Thematic Analysis of Megachurch Post-COVID Lockdown Re-Opening Videos on Facebook,” can be read here:

“Fear is a potent human emotion that drives behavior and can have positive and negative results on the outcome of communication strategies with organizations and the public,” Wold said. “While my study focuses on pastors, churches, and worship practices, all organizations and leaders can benefit from understanding how fear and anxiety play a role in the way people understand their messages.”

Within the article, Wold addresses two research questions: 1.) How did churches use online video on their Facebook pages to communicate re-opening plans to their congregation after lockdown restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring 2020 were lifted? and 2.) What were the major themes present in these mediated messages that address the fear and anxiety that church attenders might have with returning to in-person worship services?

Wold is currently conducting research for his dissertation through Regent University’s Ph.D. in communication program. He received his M.A. in communication from Bethel University. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minn., he most recently served as chair and professor of Communication Arts at North Central University following a long corporate career at Ameriprise Financial working in public relations, advertising and marketing. His research interests center on mediated communication and faith, commercial media and the objectification of relationships, digital media industries, Christianity and popular culture.

Wold shared about his research findings.

“The findings revealed that church communicators faced two opposing anxieties within congregations—those afraid of COVID transmission and wanting more public safety measures, and those worried about losing their personal, religious liberties,” he said.

“Most of us would admit to at least some contention between safety and liberty within ourselves,” he continued. “The pandemic was the first time in modern history where the very practices of faith and worship carried health risks.”

Wold highlights the benefits of studying communication at Asbury.

“Asbury puts theory into practice with our numerous avenues of experiential learning,” he said. “Students can come here knowing that their professor’s research is not far removed from the learning and doing that we emphasize every day.”

The Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture (RMDC) is a peer-reviewed academic journal, publishing three issues per year. RMDC is published in cooperation with the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture (ISMRC).

The Asbury University School of Communication Arts includes two departments with multidimensional majors: the Department of Communication & Theatre and the Department of Media, Journalism & Digital Storytelling. The School of Communication Arts offers an M.A. in Communication, an M.A. in Digital Storytelling, an M.F.A. in Screenwriting, and an M.F.A. in Film and Television Production. These graduate programs overlap with the undergraduate media communication program, allowing undergraduate students to earn an M.A. in one additional year. Learn more: