Fourth of July celebrations over the weekend marked a noted re-engagement in large social settings. I enjoyed fireworks with friends and family once again this year. After a year off in 2020, my family returned to the same venue as years prior– the crowds were the same size, the kettle corn tasted the same, and the band playing was just as entertaining. It seemed like everything picked up from where they left off in 2019.
Business is getting back to normal. After a year of working in kitchens and other make-shift offices, large companies are asking their office workers to come back in five days a week. Restaurants have long lines of people waiting. Highway traffic has returned. Holiday airplane travel now exceeds levels in 2019. Life is returning to what it was before the pandemic in a number of ways.
The lasting impacts of a year of shutdowns are still unknown, and will take a long time to fully understand. One positive aspect of the past 12 months has been the willingness for folks to try something new. Hopefully, people continue to try new approaches to work and life as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes in the United States.
As we work with churches in particular, a number of lasting shifts have likely occurred. Churches continue to take positive lessons learned during the pandemic and apply them to the world where restrictions have been removed.
It is great to see that most churches continue to leave the camera on, live streaming their in-person worship experience to those unable to attend (and reaching people they wouldn’t normally reach).
Driving through the countryside on a Sunday, it is great to see outdoor worship has returned and continues to thrive with a number of congregations. Active presence on a smartphone is proving to be a wonderful, continuous complement to the Sunday morning worship experience.
All of these new techniques need continued refinement (and focus) to impact the spiritual life of the congregation. COVID-19 forced churches to learn and adapt, we continue to hope they continue to take the active approach to exploring new methods of engagement. Don’t let a return to ‘normal’ stifle the creativity for the future. A new normal has emerged where technology can be used to enhance traditions that have long been in place and it makes for an exciting future in the life of the church.