Are you ready to get rid of the masks? Had enough of social distancing and quarantining? Let’s bring on the new normal, whatever that is! The problem is, the new normal will not arrive for a couple years yet. At least.
That’s according to Thom Rainer, a highly respected pastor and consultant, in his new book, The Post-Quarantine Church. We have no idea the lasting impact of quarantining and masking and social distancing on mental health, social interaction, our children or the Church. But the early signs are not good – for the first three.
Many churches have closed permanently during the pandemic, and the autopsy results are inconclusive as to whether they would have closed anyway: COVID may have hastened the inevitable. A lot of churches, though, have discovered some amazing and wonderful new directions in ministry. That includes us at Shepherd of the Hills. The question becomes: how do we sustain these new approaches to reaching others with the love of God, or do we need even more creativity to navigate the pandemic waters?
Right near the top of our recently developed strategic plan is this: Rebuild our relational culture. That means living through the masks and preparing for life without them. It means restoring our people connections and building new ones. That sounds easy enough, but it’s not a matter of just opening the doors again. Re-opening is easy; re-connecting, not so much.
Here are the challenges we all have to deal with:
Challenges are opportunities, so here’s where I believe we need to go (the technical term is Desired Outcomes):
Toward these ends, God has inspired in us a roadmap (our Action Steps):
That’s a lot to take in, so we’ll all have to read through it a few more times and pray about it even more times. As you do, consider these Action Steps from Hebrews 10: “Because of Jesus, let us draw near to God with a since heart in full assurance of faith… Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together … but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I call this passage the Church Salad because of all the “Let Us” (see what I did there?).
And the Day approaching is not the day of herd immunity. It is the Day of Jesus, coming back to see how we’ve done. Starting now.
Pastor Steve Kline
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.