Church Life
Crawford Paul

Navigating the Church in the New Normal

The jury has deliberated and the verdict is in. Life will never be the same. Church life will never be the same.

The Covid-19 virus has changed the way the world will function. How much it will change and how it will change we don’t know.

The changing church

Change is hard for many people. They like routine, order and a comfortable way of living. If change is going to happen they prefer it slow and gradual.

With the coronavirus pandemic, we barely had time to blink. Within a matter of a week, life, as we know it in the West, came to a grinding halt. We couldn’t meet in groups. We were told to stay home. For some of us, it was a massive change. For others, it was life as normal.

The challenged church

For the first time in decades, the church has come to a major crisis. How do we continue to function as the church with all of these restrictions? How will we connect? Will we fall apart?

It has been so encouraging to see many churches rise up and face this challenge. We all know the church is not a building. Now we have been forced to live like it. We have been thrown out of our comfortable routine.

In many ways, this is exactly what the church needed. We needed a crisis to get our attention. We needed a reminder that Christ is coming soon and the end is near.

The church without a building

What a concept! Remind you of anything? It reminds me of the church in the book of Acts. No buildings. No gymnasiums. No kids programs. No organized gospel campaigns. No ____________ etc. etc.

And yet, without any of that, the church was powerful. It was alive. It was fit and trim. It changed the world and culture. It led thousands to the Lord Jesus.

Is it possible that God wants us to get back to that? To get back to a simple church life?

What would that look like?

What would it look like if we were to emulate the church in Acts? Here are some thoughts.

  1. Prayer would be much more fluid. I believe we have formalized prayer into a meeting that was never intended by God. Prayer is the oil that keeps everything working smoothly. It should be a part of everything we do. Acts 4:24, “… all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God …” Getting back to “prayer in everything” would change us and the world around us.
  2. Evangelism would be organic. What a brilliant idea! Acts 8:4, “But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” Instead of organizing our evangelism, how about we just make it a priority that every person in the church becomes a personal witness of the Lord?
  3. Fellowship would be natural. The church in Acts considered each other brothers and sisters. So they acted like a family. Families get together often. They eat together. They laugh together. They cry together. They support each other. They do these things all the time. Acts 2:46, “And day by day … they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”
  4. Financial support would be automatic. When the church is in need the body of Christ step up. Or at least they should. The believers in the early church counted it an honour to help their fellow believers. We should do the same. Acts 4:34-35, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

What happens when we get back to our old way?

In the coming months, we will be released from our physical distancing restrictions. We will get back to meeting in buildings and going about our “usual” activities.

I wonder though if we can learn some valuable lessons from this unique time in our history. Can we evaluate our old way of doing things and see if there is any change needed?

Can we be better? Can we make more of an impact on our world around us? I think we can. Maybe this virus is what we needed to wake us up to the reality of our purpose as a church. Let’s not waste it.

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    4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thanks for writing this article on “the new normal”! I think we, the church have been “playing church” for way too long! We’ve become so set in our views of what WE think is the right way to do church and also the resistance TO CHANGE because “we’ve always done it this way”. The purpose of what we’re supposed to be, is lost in our organized church programs and we expect the Lord to bless OUR efforts. I truly hope that when the restrictions of our “social distancing “ is lifted that we DON’T return to the way things were before but that we move forward in a “CHANGED NEW NORMAL” and that our personal lives will also have been changed because we’ve come to know the Lord in a new and living way and become the church that we’re supposed to be for His Glory.

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    This article says a lot of good things. There’s real merit in Crawford’s proposals. This is just the first of many difficult times to come, if we believe what Paul, Peter or John wrote. Heads up! The comfortable, 20th Century church is very probably coming to a crashing halt in the 21st Century, one way or another. Next thing: watch out for wolves, false teachers coming into the flock and attempting to draw away disciples. They’re sure to appear in increasing numbers. Time to get serious with our Bibles.

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