What is your new normal? You probably can’t answer that question adequately yet. I can’t. I think we are still figuring out what this looks like. The real question is how long it will take for people to get a handle on what their new normal is.
We’re not used to such sudden and all encompassing change. It doesn’t happen very often in the US for most people. And it has been a long time since day to day life was impacted by anything of this magnitude.
Here’s our new reality – we are being forced to reconsider things. The questions about this is how are you approaching it? Is this a disaster for you personally? For organizations and institutions you are a part of? For the nation? For the church?
Or is it an opportunity to examine what church is really about at its core? To be creative? To fine alternative ways to be community? To recognize what worked in the past and to recognize that these are different times that require different solutions?
The answer to all of those questions is yes. It is both a disaster and an opportunity.
In my past, I managed and did strategy for political campaign. In many respects, this situation reminds me of those days. Lots of work. Lots of communication. Lots of managing expectations. Lots of making things up on the fly. Lots of embracing a solution one day only to discard it the next. Lots of jettisoning long standing things because they just didn’t work any longer. Lots of innovation. Lots of trial and error.
Campaigns teach people many lessons, if they are open to them. Even in a loss, there is much to learn. One of the biggest predictors of how successful a campaign would be is its willingness to adapt to a changing situation. And how well could you control the message and the discussion. That requires people – lots of people to help. It requires an entrepreneurial mindset and risk taking. It requires calm decision making in the midst of chaos – decision making that can look past the immediate situation and see down the road. It requires being able to see the potholes that you could potentially come across and figuring out how to avoid them, or at least how to get through them. And it requires the recognition that this too shall pass. But no worries, a new crisis will take its place. That means panic has no place at the table – only level heads who consider the information and situation and determine how to go forward, ready to adjust as needed.
These are times in which we all figure out new normals. We are forced to. I choose to see this as an opportunity unlike any before. Maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m not diminishing the disaster of the situation. It really is a disaster. But the disaster shall pass.
This is important for the church especially. Too many of our churches have maintained systems, structures, attitudes, and methods that worked in the past – worked very well in fact. But their success is their weakness. In their success, they got lazy. They got comfortable. They stopped adapting, assuming that life would always be good. And now we have a crisis. What worked before doesn’t work now. The church is forced to change and adapt. Or it will die because of a refusal to adapt. I refuse to curl up and die. I refuse to try to keep putting a round peg in a square hole.
If this crisis is anything, it is something that is forcing the church to re-examine itself. Those churches that adapt new techniques, attitudes, technologies, structures, methods will the churches that will come through this battered and hurt, but in a much stronger position to thrive after the fact. Churches may lose people and finances as a result. But the faithful remnant that persist will make the church even stronger than it was before. They will form the core of the community. They will pursue discipleship. They will be stewards. They will grow in faith. They will have stories of encounters with Jesus to share. They will be living the faith in new ways unthought of even a month ago.
I choose to see this time as an opportunity. It is a disaster and a gift. It is forcing the church to decide what it is – a social club or a church. And when it decides it is a church, then it will embrace what has been preached for centuries – life, death, and resurrection.
After the disaster passes, we will experience resurrection. And resurrected life is glorious.