Over the past few weeks, people have been asking me, “Do you think things will ever get back to normal?” Like you, I would love to go back to the way things used to be. I long for the day when I can sit at a table in a restaurant with Laura and order a steak. I want to be able to walk around a grocery store like we did in the “good old days” without people having to wear masks. I want to go to a Colts game! And, yes, I want to gather with our church family and guests to worship Jesus together, shake hands, and even give a hug or two (which says a lot, since I’m not the “huggy” type).
I’m not the first to declare this, and I don’t like what I’m about to write, but here it goes. We will never go back to exactly the way it was pre-coronavirus. Yes, I believe at some point we will have public worship gatherings, sports arenas will be full, and life, to a certain extent, will feel normal. But if we’re wise, we will think long and hard about what our “new normal” might look like and how best to prepare for it.
In our new normal, people will have greater awareness of the interconnectedness of our world. A virus that starts in China spreads all over the world. The oil industry, stock market, state governments, and global politics are fused together where we are seeing the consequences of when we all work together . . . and when we don’t.
In our new normal, people will have a deeper appreciation for the frailty of our humanity. One small virus turns into a pandemic that, as of today, has taken the lives of 252,102 globally (68, 934 nationally).
Yes, things have changed. Public gatherings have changed. Business models and methods have changed. Education has changed. The economy has changed. Jobs have changed. Shopping has changed. Dining out has changed.
But there are also things that stay the same. The need for kindness, grace and love stays the same. The fundamentals of a healthy society stay the same. The core of family life stays the same. The core of spiritual and emotional health stays the same. The need for creativity, growth, and adventure stays the same. The need for stability, peace and calm stays the same.
All of this is true in the church as well, isn’t it? Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, churches and Christians historically have experienced tension of what stays the same and what changes—the debates over ministry styles, music styles, dress styles, architectural styles, and on the list goes. But, my how the coronavirus changed things! I haven’t heard anyone arguing over whether you can wear your sweats or pajamas to our online church services! So many of these issues sound like “luxury items” when you haven’t even had the chance to gather together for worship services. But without question there are those “essentials” that we hold to at the core of the Christian faith that never change: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture, and the mission of the church.
On May 17, I’m kicking off a new sermon series called “Gear Up: Preparing for our New Normal,” and I hope you’ll join us for our online services. None of us knows what our new normal will look like, but as we move into it, there will be, without question, things that become new and things that will stay the same. We all have experienced change in:
Where we worship—but not if we worship.
How we worship—but not Whom we worship.
How we teach—but not the core of what we teach.
How we minister—but not if we minister.
How we disciple—but not if we disciple.
How we care—but not if we care.
How we share the Gospel—but not if we share.
So, let’s gear up and get ready for our new normal. “And he who was seated on the throne said, `Behold, I am making all things new’” (Revelation 21:5, ESV).