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New Normal

One of the phrases that we all grew tired of during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis was the “new normal.”  With all of the changes, cancellations, and closures, some spoke as though things would never return to normal.  Thus, a new normal was born.  As I heard this, I fought against this idea because there would come a time again when we could return to the people, places, and things that we love.  We weren’t facing a new normal.  We were experiencing a temporary normal.

Minus an uptick of COVID-19 cases from time to time, we have seen life return to normal.  Football stadiums were packed this Fall.  Family gatherings and celebrations have made a comeback.  Restaurants and movie theaters are full.  One thing that isn’t full - the church.  

Most churches, both locally and nationally, have seen in-person worship attendance drop with many people choosing to continue to worship online.  While any connection with the church is better than no connection with the church, there are some things to consider if worshipping online has become your new normal.

First, consider the nature of worship.  It is participatory.  Odds are, if you are worshipping from home, you aren’t singing at the top of your lungs.  You aren’t praying with the same gusto and staying focused on the teaching as you would if you were gathered with other believers.  Engagement is different if you are simply watching instead of participating.  I can prove it.  When I go see a football game in person, I am fully engaged.  I’m cheering for my team.  I’m on my feet when there’s a big moment in the game.  I may even yell at the refs from time to time.  But, when I’m watching from home, my feet are propped up.  I’m watching the game, but I’m not getting up for the big moments.  I’m interested, but I’m not fully engaged.  It’s still something I enjoy and look forward to, but it’s different just like worshipping online is different than meeting together.

Second, worship shows what we value.  If you have returned to every other part of life, but not to consistent, in-person worship, what does that say about what you value?  If your family has returned to school, sports, vacations, and family outings, which are all good things, but have not returned to worship, what does that say about what we value?  That’s why God commanded us to keep the Sabbath so that we all have a day of worship and rest as we show what we value - a life dependant upon and trusting God.

Lastly, worship and connection are needed for the whole family.  Connecting to an online worship service may seem great for mom and dad, but what about the kids?  They see you on your device or they see “church” on the screen, but they haven’t been to church or to their small group in almost 2 years.  You feel connected, but they are 100% not connected.  Your kids are missing pivotal, foundational moments with the Lord and with the church because of your new normal.  This is hard to hear but needs to be heard.  We can’t lose a generation of kids because we have chosen to worship in a way that they don’t get the same opportunity to connect and grow.
So, as we enter the New Year, now is the time to make your plan to return to in-person worship just as you have returned to every other area of life.  Make your plan to return to community so that your whole family fully engages in worship and much-needed Christian community.