We have all been waiting for the new normal. What will it be like when everything calms down? How will we function as a society when the craziness of the past 5 months is behind us?
I believe our desire to return to some form of “normal” has blinded us to the reality that the new normal is upon us.
What’s the new normal? Massive ideological differences between people in the same community, online school or some version of it becoming a commonplace in a child’s education, sports put on hold or just strange to watch and a cancel culture that tries to ruin anyone’s life that has made a mistake.
Inside the church things look different as well…churches are running at about 20%-50% of their normal in person attendance, decreasing engagement as sermon streaming stats go down, and an inability to gather for our normal events (The truth is that even if we had these normal events we would only have a portion of our congregation attend).
This is the new normal.
Sure things might adjust back a bit when a vaccine is commonplace, but until then – This is our reality.
So as followers of Christ we have an option. Grow frustrated and defiant towards those that have views that are different than ours OR figure out ways to reach these people with the hope of the Gospel.
That is our option in this bizarre time we are living in. We can boil over with anger and resentment towards people that want to infringe upon our rights to gather or cancel us because of our stances on hot topic issues or we can get passionate about reaching them.
Maybe you have heard the phrase- “you can’t reach those you are at war with.” I believe that is more applicable than ever.
So what does this mean for the Christian as we look around at this new normal?
Be ready to change the methods – not the mission.
Church leadership coach Carey Nieuwhof writes, “The mission–and only the mission—is sacred.”
Jesus exemplified this strategy perfectly. His method of ministry was constantly different – but his mission never changed. His methods involved meeting a physical need, performing a miracle, having an intentional conversation, standing up for someone or eating a meal with them. Sometimes he would preach to the masses from a hillside and others he would gather with a select few. He was not tied to his method – he was tied to his mission.
When the religious leaders started to question him after he was eating a meal with people that lived a life in opposition to God he states, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Lk 5:29–32).
The mission matters more than the method.
So as we position ourselves, our families and our churches to thrive in this new normal we MUST be willing to adjust some of our methods. Doing what we did in February will not work in October. Sure it might make 20%-50% of our congregations happy – but it might struggle reaching those that need Jesus.
Our church leaders and congregations must be ready to try new things to engage the people we have been called to reach.
Maybe your small group meets while having social distance, maybe we focus on smaller gatherings not bigger ones, maybe we start to think outside of the box in efforts to minister to church members who aren’t ready to gather yet, maybe we engage our communities in ways we never considered in the past, maybe we rethink our discipleship strategy or how we structure our staff, maybe we put renewed efforts on our live-streaming.
Whatever we do – we must be a people willing to embrace new methods. Jesus isn’t calling us to a method He is calling us to a mission.
He has tasked us with a clear mission… “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
That is the mission. A mission that still applies during a pandemic, political tension and a cancel culture.
The new normal is here. If we want to thrive and not just survive – let’s hold tight to the mission and not the method!