Challenges for Online Sermons and Online Communion during Covid-19 Pandemic: A Historical Perspective of Rural Congregations in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe




Online Sermons, Online Communion, COVID-19, Rural Congregations, Reformed Church in Zimbabwe


This article aimed to investigate the challenges rural congregations face in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. The presentation employed literature review and documentary reviews such as church magazines because it is historical in nature. The findings showed that, unlike urban congregations who continued to benefit through digital gadgets to receive online sermons and online communion, rural congregations lag in all aspects involving digital sermons. Using face-to-face interviews and archival research, this paper proposes improved sermon dissemination packaging as key to the effective spread of the word in the face of difficulties in accessing technologically disseminated sermons in rural areas in Zimbabwe. Underpinned on the technological determinism theory, this paper unpacks technologically based preaching approaches that can be used to send sermons to all areas to improve Christian lives in rural areas in Zimbabwe. The study used a qualitative exploratory study designed to probe the perceptions and experiences of rural communities on issues about online sermon delivery communication. A qualitative research design enabled the researchers to interact with the study’s participants. Rural congregations in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe faced several challenges. The most reported challenges were a lack of appreciation for using electronic gadgets to access platforms such as Zoom, Youtube, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google Meet and a lack of data and network connectivity resources. It was recommended that the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe strive to make an effort to capacitate pastors in rural congregations and their congregations so that they are well equipped with user-friendly electronic gadgets even in remote areas. This helps the church to benefit and continue to be enlightened with the word of God and communion even during the advent of pandemics such as COVID-19.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Nyasha Mapuwei, Midlands State University

Nyasha Mapuwei (PhD)
Senior Lecturer
Midlands State University, Zimbabwe
Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Afolaranmi, A.O. 2020. “Towards the Possibility of Internet Ministry as an Alternative Pastoral Ministry in Nigeria during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Accessed 22 June 2022.

Alhelou, H.H., Golshan, M.E.H., Njenda, T.C. and Siano, P. 2019. “A Power System Blackout and Cascading Events: Research Motivations and Challenges”, Energies 12 (4): 682. DOI:

Bail, C. A. 2021. Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing. S.L.: Princeton University Press. 52–53. DOI:

Bhoroma, V. 2021. “Zimbabwe's Economic Outlook for 2021.” Accessed 16 July 2022.

Brennen, S. and Kreiss, D. 2014. “Digitalization and Digitization.” Accessed 16 June 2022.

Byrne, M.J. and Nuzum, D.R. 2020. “Pastoral Closeness in Physical Distancing: The Use of Technology in Pastoral Ministry during COVID-19.” Accessed 1 August 2022. DOI:

Chaora, B. 2020. “Impact of Covid-19 Lockdown on Micro, Small & Medium Scale Enterprises in Zimbabwe.” Accessed 21 September 2021.>uploads>2020/09

Chingono, N. 2021. “Half of Zimbabweans Fell into Extreme Poverty during Covid.” Accessed 6 June 2022.

Chukwuma, O.G. 2021. “The Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Religious Practices of Churches in Nigeria', HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 77(4), a6377. Date of access: 10 June 2022. DOI:

Coleman, J. n.d. “A Theology of Ministry.” Accessed 2 September 2022.

Cook, N. 2017. “Zimbabwe: A Military-Compelled Transition?” Accessed 11 May 2022.

Corrigan, M. and Flanagan, B. 2017. “The Phenomenon of Presence in Spiritual Care: A Tapestry of Themes.” Spiritual Care 7 (2). DOI:

Cronje, TJ. 1984. Born to Witness. Pretoria: NG. Kerboerhandel.

Driskell, J.E. and Radtke, P.H. 2015. “The Effect of Gesture on Speech Production and Comprehension.” Human Factors, the Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 45 (3): 445–454. DOI:

Dzinamarira, T. 2021. “When Culture, Traditions and Public Health Clash: A Paradigm Shift Urgently Needed to Stem the Spread of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.” The South African Medical Journal 111 (4): 279. DOI:

Elbert, A. 2020. “God Equips the Called.” In H.A. Campbell (ed.). The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online. Digital Religion Publications. 12–14. Accessed on 22 June 2022.

Floberg, J. 2020. “The Challenges of Online in Indian Country and Rural America.” In H.A. Campbell (ed.). The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online. Digital Religion Publications. 17–19. Accessed 16 May 2022.

Gupta, M.S. 2020. “What is Digitization, Digitalization, and Digital Transformation?” Accessed 17 April 2022.

Hutchings, T. 2014. “The dis/embodied church: Worship, new media and the body.” In G. Vincett and E. Obinna (ed.). Christianity in the modern world, Routledge, Oxfordshire. Accessed 23 May 2022.

Kanyenze, G., Chitambara, P. and Tyson, J. 2017. “The Outlook for the Zimbabwean Economy.” Accessed 11 June 2022. Outlook-for-Zimbabwe-Economy_Sep2017.pdf

Keeran, D. 2017. “The Conscious Presence of God.” Accessed 17 May 2022. _The_Conscious_Presence_of_God

Khroul, V. 2021. “Digitalization of Religion in Russia: Adjusting Preaching to New Formats, Channels and Platforms.” Accessed 10 April 2022. DOI:

Lombard, M. and Jones, M.T. 2006. “Defining Presence.” Accessed 2 April 2022.

Mabhiza, L. 2021. “High Data Rates Hindering Online Church Services.” Accessed 11 April 2022.

Mananavire, B. 2020. “Power Tariffs Shoot Up.” The Zimbabwe Independent. 28 February 2020. Accessed 11 April 2022.

Masunungure, E. and Bratton, M. 2018. “Heal the Beloved Country: Zimbabwe's Polarized Electorate” Afro-barometer Policy No. 49. Accessed 7 June 2022.

Mathee, F.J.N. 2018. “Cyber Cemeteries as a Challenge to Traditional Reformed Thanatological Liturgical Praxis.” PhD thesis, Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria. Accessed 2 August 2022.

Mavhunga, C. 2020. “Zimbabwe Begins Lockdown to Fight COVID-19.” Accessed 23 June 2022.

Mentsiev, A.U., Engel, M.V., Tsamaev, A.M., Abubakarov., M.V. and Yushaeva, R.S.A. 2020. “The Concept of Digitalization and its Impact on the Modern Economy.” Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research. DOI:

Moyo, F. and Mazvarirwofa, K. 2021. “Pandemic Could Forever Alter Funeral Rituals.” Global Press Journal. Accessed 11 May 2022.

Mutumburanzou, A. 1999. A Historical Perspective on the Development of the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. Cape Town: Stellenbosch University. (Unpublished).

Newsday. 2021. “Churches Fail to Reopen.” August 16, 2021. Accessed 23 June 2022.

Ngele, O.K. and Peters, P.E. 2019. “A Critical Study of Acts 6:1–3 and its Implications for Political Restructuring in Nigeria.” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 75 (4): a5334. DOI:

Parish, H. 2020. “The Absence of Presence and the Presence of Absence: Social Distancing, Sacraments, and the Virtual Religious Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Religions 11: 276. DOI:

Pasara, M.T. and Garidzirai, R. 2020. “The Boomerang Effects: An Analysis of the Pre and Post Dollarization Era in Zimbabwe.” Economies 8 (2): 32. DOI:

Pembroke, N. 1999. “Presence and Shame in Pastoral Care and Counselling” PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh. Accessed 17 July 2022.

Reimann, R.P. 2017. "‘Uncharted Territories’: The Challenges of Digitalization and Social Media for Church and Society.” The Ecumenical Review 69 (1): 67–79. DOI:

Roberts, A. 2021 “The Deformation of Online Media and Our Current Social and Political Crises (A Retrospective).” Accessed 1 November 2021.

Rusvingo, S.L. 2014. “The Rolling Blackouts in Zimbabwe: A Zombie to Economic Recovery Prospects (2013-2014).” Global Journal of Management and Business Research: B Economics and Commerce 14 (9). Accessed 17 June 2022.

Rutoro, R. 2018. Lay leadership development in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. Mauritius: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing.

Schallmo, D. and Williams, C. 2018. “Digital Transformation Now! Guiding the Successful Digitalization of your Business Model.” Accessed 28 July 2022. DOI:

Shibata, S. 2021. “Digitalization or Flexibilization? The Changing Role of Technology in the Political Economy of Japan.” Review of International Political Economy. DOI:

Tagwirei, K. 2022. “The Ministry Of Presence in Absence: Pastoring Online in Zimbabwe During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” HTS Theologies Studies/ Theological Studies 78 (4): a7161. DOI:

The Herald. 2021. “Desperate measures for desperate times.” 20 January 2021. Accessed 28 July 20222.

The Herald. 2021. “Online Churches: The New Norm.” 9 February 2021. Accessed 27 July 2022.

The Herald. 2021. “Low Turnout as Churches Resume Service.” 16 August 2021. Accessed 11 April 2022.

Tinsley, M.A. 2012. “The Ministry of Service: A Critical Practico-Theological Examination of the Ministry of Presence and its Reformulation for Military Chaplains.” MA dissertation, Rawlings School of Divinity, Liberty University. Accessed 17 April 2022.

Van der Merwe, W.J. 1981. From Mission Field to Autonomous Church in Zimbabwe. Pretoria: N.G. Kerkboekhandel.

World Health Organization. 2021. “Vaccination Dashboard, Zimbabwe, Viewed 24 September 2021.” Accessed 21 July 2022.

World Population Review. 2021. “Zimbabwe Population 2021.” Accessed 22 July 2022.

Xinhua News. 2021. “Zimbabwe Relaxes COVID-19 Lockdown Measures.” 7 September 2021. Accessed 29 May 2022.

Yang, S.A. 2021. “The Word Digitalized: A Techno-Theological Reflection on Online Preaching and its Types.” Homiletic 46 (1): 75–90. Date of access: 11 April 2022.

Zhu, H., Wei, L. and Niu, P. 2020. “The Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in Wuhan, China.” Global Health Research and Policy 5 (1). Accessed 7 April 2022. DOI:




How to Cite

Baloyi, Ezekiel, and Nyasha Mapuwei. 2023. “Challenges for Online Sermons and Online Communion During Covid-19 Pandemic: A Historical Perspective of Rural Congregations in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe”. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 49 (2):16 pages.



Received 2022-10-11
Accepted 2023-08-28
Published 2023-09-07