Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Churches: the 'New Normal'

The United Reformed Church has produced a discussion paper for local church leadership on 'The New Normal'. It covers a variety of practical and strategic questions for use of church buildings post-lockdown, and is a helpful read whatever church tradition you're from. With the news that Hillsong may not meet as before until 2021, there is a lot of thinking going on about what a post-covid church looks like.

I read this in an excellent collection of short pieces about lockdown/digital church. Seems spot on:

Companies have discovered that their employees really can and will work from home, so expensive office space gradually will be eliminated as will the lunch time crowds of many eateries. Although there will be a rebound as we try to “return to normal,” soon enough, every industry will recognize that this change is more enduring than the virus....

...Unfortunately, when things “return to normal” churches and restaurants likely will breathe a sigh of relief and go right back to business as usual. They won’t even notice that something inexplicable has changed forever, and by the time these new habits and trends become obvious to moribund institutions, it will be too late.

Mainline churches have been merging or closing for several decades. In the wake of this pandemic, that will greatly accelerate because the “return to normal” will be short-lived, and our churches are biding their time, waiting to get back to the way things were. It isn’t happening. 

Many congregations have seen the future and are retooling for it. They are paying attention to the implications of what will be the “new normal” for society. Churches that thrive will adapt to, and even exploit, new cultural realities. Those faith communities are rare, though, because the church and its leadership are among the most change-resistant creatures God ever made. In this case, however, that resistance may prove fatal.

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