So people are talking about “the new normal” and what our post or semi-post Covid-19 world might look like.
Same people, different attitudes? More angry or full of fear than before? Wary of gathering? Desperate for hugs, face-to-face?
Regarding church experiences- enjoyed bedside coffee and turned sound down due to worship songs/team/leader they didn’t like… or love so much they can’t wait to hear ’em again?
Dressed in your jammies, relaxed in a comfy chair and singing like nobody heard you because nobody could -“so let’s keep meeting online!”? “Heck, I can get ya’ll on my phone in the woods or at the beach and do the weekly Zoom small group as long as I got wifi!”
Sleep in late, eat breakfast right through the sermon, watch from the bathroom, on it goes… or could, or might or half might?
I don’t know but I do know that introverts often like fewer folks, control of volume and quiet spaces. Extroverts will hit the “chat” button online or in person. The more options offered the more options to choose from and most individuals, certainly Americans LOVE options, choices, freedom to do what suits THEM best whatever that looks like to them.
Now… what’s best for the rest in one’s family or housemate/s, the local fellowship of believers, the neighborhood, etc., that’s what often gets the toss if we’re not prayerful, thoughtful, careful and seeking God the Holy Spirit in accord with His Word.
So in super-brief, I DON’T KNOW what it’s going to look like but most all I’m reading and hearing is expectation toward elements of change and so the certainty of “always been this way and ain’t never gonna change” may be believed by Luddite-like folks living waaaaay out in the rural places, many who either never stopped doing the same stuff or aren’t going to now because that’s their preference. Some prefer distance, I truly understand that and it’s not flat-out sinful -at least to a point it isn’t.
Meanwhile younger folks do as all generations -explore, experiment, discover excellent or lousy things and ways to experience them. Some will flow with the tide of wise older peeps and some will blow “norms” off including typical “church stuff” because they don’t see much reason not to.
Faith, hope, God’s genuine love, the joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. gentleness and self control they see (or don’t) with at least some measure of consistency from professing Christ-followers may be the only enduring “road map”. The character and nature of Father/Son/Spirit in His people as always, serves like an open door rather than an imposing sledgehammer which forces and demands rather than invites.
As to verbally sharing the Good News, when it’s a gracious conversation springing out of practical care for others we may think “unworthy” (see Mt. 25 and Jesus’ six sheep-goat details) I’d say the churches’ form isn’t anywhere close to the most essential thing.
Recently, John Wenrich, president of The Evangelical Covenant Church (our denomination) quoted someone and searching the Web I found this is an often-used phrase. I’ve believed it for decades but had never heard nor read it prior:
“The church doesn’t have a mission, the mission has a church.”
Rather than our individual, personal comfort, it seems to me followers of Jesus must actually follow Him. Think, speak, do as He did. Treat folks as He did.
Learning fresh approaches to live out His stated mission-call to us is so foundational but often forgotten, set aside, neglected, ignored or rebelled against because our self-built/maintained kingdoms are not synonymous with the kingdom of God nor do they always reflect our professed King.
As always some people and groups will flex like a willow tree, others will dry and harden up with waning sap much like an old hickory which exists only until it fully dies.
It’s interesting to me that the English translation of the original Swedish name for the ECC which I just mentioned is “Mission Friends”.
I suggest that our denomination as well as the larger church on earth -regardless of methodology, etc., best ponder, think again, remember what godly, Christ-centered friendship and Bible-defined mission look like. Is that my/our true focus and genuine concern?
If that’s our “new” normal? It should have been our normal all along.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn