4 CHANGES IN 2020 THAT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME (I HOPE)
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
This has definitely been a year to remember, for better or worse. 6 months ago few of us could have predicted, or even dreamed of, all the changes that we would see happen in 2020. Not simply small changes, but we have been through deeply held societal changes over the first half of this year that will fundamentally change our lives from this point forward.
The closest comparison that I have in my life would be 9/11. I will never forget waking up on that morning and seeing the World Trade Center burning from a plane crash and then watching as a second plane hit the other tower. I will never forget having to go to the grocery store that day because we had just returned from vacation the night before. We were the only ones in the store… it was such a strange feeling. We were fundamentally changed on 9/11. We tolerate security check points like we never would have before that tragic day. It affected everything about the we way we live our daily lives and I believe that 2020 will be the same.
As I think about it though, there are some really good changes that have come about over these few months. Changes that maybe we didn’t realize we actually needed to make. So here are a few of them that I hope will never return to normal.
1. First, let’s get this out of the way. Aren’t we all a little more comfortable with the increased sanitization of public spaces now? I mean, I’m kind of glad that I haven’t had to salt my food in a restaurant with a salt shaker that hasn’t been wiped down since the Obama presidency. I was having lunch with a friend a few days ago and he pointed out that menus are even being wiped down between diners now. Even better, some restaurants are using one-use disposable menus now. I for one am happy about that.
I realize that these extra efforts will not always be so stringent, but maybe we will never go back to the days of grabbing a shopping cart at the grocery store and getting a hand full of snot from the kid who rode in there before you came. Wishful thinking? Probably, but I do believe that cleanliness will remain a priority for many companies for quite some time and will hopefully just become standard operating procedure.
2. Second, the relaxing of my schedule during the shutdown revealed some glaring weak spots in my life. I enjoy my work. I find meaning and purpose in what I do. But I’m also willing to admit that sometimes I may misplace my priorities by putting my work and the church ahead of my family. I can rationalize this by saying that my family is with me for a considerable amount of time at the church. But we all know it’s not the same.
During the shutdown, I was able to have dinner with my family every night. And not just running through and grabbing a greasy hamburger and fries. We actually cooked our meals and it was so much better. We were able to spend time with each other and have conversations. We were able to hang out in the back yard and just play in the dirt. My wife and I spent many evenings sitting on our front porch just enjoying a Diet Coke and each other’s company. Honestly, I don’t think I had ever sat on our front porch and we have lived in our home for fourteen years.
As our schedules begin to fill back up with office hours and other obligations, I really don’t want to go back to the pre-pandemic way of doing things. I think it has been super healthy for my family relationships to be home with them more regularly. For some of you it may be the opposite. Maybe you have discovered things that you didn’t know you didn’t like about your significant other. That’s an entirely different blog post. But even the time to expose those things is healthy. I hope that families will make a commitment to being present much more than before. I know that I am making that commitment.
3. Another thing that these last few months have highlighted is our need for community. Not just seeing each other, but real and deep relationships. Our lives up until this point have become so chaotic and busy that we blow right through conversations with other people and don’t even remember what was said. As we have been unable to be in the presence of those we call friends, I think it has really demonstrated just how much we need them. Life Groups just aren’t the same on Zoom, although I am really thankful that we have that technology available. Without it we would have been totally cut off from each other for an extended period of time.
Community is vital to all people and even more so to Christians. We simply cannot do this Jesus thing alone. We need others to be there and let us know that we aren’t in it alone. We need others to be there whenever we stumble and to hold us accountable. Simply put, we need others. Life was never meant to be alone. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but even in that I know deep down that I need community to make it through this thing we call life.
4. Maybe the biggest thing that I don’t think (and I hope I am right) will be the same after this is how we do church. Church has become comfortable and we have kind of settled into certain ways of doing things. Most of what we do centers on Sunday morning services and then there is little contact with each other through the week. Sure, we have Life Groups and children’s/youth programs but that’s pretty much it for many churches. In reality, everything we do is often centered around meeting in our buildings and catering to our attenders and members.
The last few months have demonstrated something really significant. We can reach a great deal more people when our focus is outside of the building. A church like mine is fairly small. We would reach around 60-70 people on an average Sunday prior to the pandemic. After being forced to move ministry to an online platform, we reached 10 to 20 times more people every week. Imagine what we could do if we focused our attention less on Sundays, and more towards meeting people in our communities and online during the week. Imagine if we placed a greater emphasis on building relationships with those 10-20 times more people online each week by connecting with them in creative ways.
Don’t take me wrong, I believe that corporate gatherings like we do on Sundays are vital to the health of a church. But this has opened by my eyes to the greater opportunity that we have by meeting people where they are and not expecting them to just show up on a Sunday. It’s not an either or… it is a both and. My hope is that we have seen enough evidence of how great our reach can be that it spurs us to find creative ways to meet people and not simply hope they come to a Sunday morning service.
These are just a few things that jump out for me when I look at the changes we have seen in 2020. How about you? Are there things that you have seen change over the last few months that you hope will never go back? We would love to hear those. Leave us a comment and let us know what they are.
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