A New Normal

Normal is a relative term. What’s normal for me may not be normal for you. I keep thinking to myself and saying in conversation that I’ll be glad when we get back to normal. I suspect the same may be true about your thoughts and words.

Unfortunately, many churches thrive on the normal and in many cases normal isn’t all that good. For some, normal means routine that is devoid of the power of God. Vance Havner once said that the church has been subnormal for so long that if it ever gets back to normal it will seem abnormal. The unfortunate fact is that the line between ordinary and extraordinary has become greatly blurred in many of our minds.

One of the great things God has done through this pandemic is challenge our definition of normal. Six months ago, no one would have called Facebook Live normal, and most of us had never even heard of Zoom (many of us wish we still had not). However, these are avenues of communication that have become normal. Some churches have started doing drive-through offerings and pull-up prayers for their church family. That wasn’t normal before all this!

In spite of these abnormal measures we’ve utilized in the church, the sky hasn’t fallen and the Lord hasn’t disappeared. In fact, these creative methods have opened our eyes to the fact that technology isn’t as bad as we thought and our flexibility is greater than we knew.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I read a few years ago about a research project that proved that untrue (hope that wasn’t our tax dollars at work). This research proved you CAN teach an old dog a new trick. We’ve learned through this pandemic that you can also teach a lifelong Baptist a new way. Praise the Lord! 

Our pastors have done a wonderful job demonstrating creativity over these last two months, and I commend them again for their efforts. I also want to celebrate all our church members who have flexed and adapted and bent over backwards to make the most of a messed-up situation. May God continue to strengthen your faith!

I want to challenge us all not to be thinking that when this all subsides we’ll go back to normal. The truth is it’ll be a while before anything is close to normal. Even then, I hope we never get back to the normal of taking worship for granted, complaining about petty little things, and holding grudges against our church family for ridiculous reasons.

I pray, instead, that we eke out a new normal where we sing to the Lord when we worship, we listen intently to the Word, we encourage each other in the faith, and we look for every opportunity to share the Gospel. Someone defined average as the best of the worst and the worst of the best. We don’t need average nor ordinary — we need extraordinary. Far be it from any of us to approach an extraordinary God with normal expectations.

The author may be contacted at simpletruth@mbcb.org.