The Truth about Disruption
I’ll admit it. I’m tired of the phrase “new normal!” Anyone else? Often in this season, I find myself thinking, “I don’t want a new normal. I want things to go back to normal.”
We’re living through one of the most disruptive periods of our lifetime, and frankly, trying to adjust to all the changes can be a little overwhelming. We feel a constant disruption whether we are at home, work, school, the grocery stores, restaurants, etc. etc., and over these last few months, we’ve all had to learn to navigate those spaces in new ways. However, while it certainly feels overwhelming, I think it has also given us a chance to look at what “normal” should be. You see, the thing about finding a “new normal” is that it forces you to start to ask the question, what should actually be my normal?
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a huge baseball fan. More specifically, he is a massive fan of the New York Yankees. We’ll forgive him for that for the moment (my apologies to all you Yankees fans, the rest of us are just jealous). We were talking only a couple of weeks after Major League Baseball had started up, and I asked him if he was enjoying having baseball back. His response floored me. He went on to explain that the break from baseball, the previous few months, had made him realize how much time he spent in his life following the game. God had begun to do some new things in his life, and he didn’t want to go back to where he was before, which meant not following the Yankees like he used to. At that moment, I was surprised but encouraged by what God was doing in my friends’ life. You see, the disruption to baseball had forced him to consider what normal should be. And, when he stepped back and evaluated, he realized that maybe some changes need to be made in how he followed the game.
We’re living through one of the most disruptive periods of our lifetime, and frankly, trying to adjust to all the changes can be a little overwhelming
I think one of the most significant disruptions that we are all facing right now is in the way we engage as the church. The “normal” way we have done church for many years changed overnight, and many of the everyday rhythms and programs we knew were drastically altered overnight. Many times, I’ve craved just going back to “normal.” But recently, I started to see that maybe this disruption could be helpful for us as the church because it’s forcing us to go back and ask the question of “What should normal look like for the church?” What are the things that we need to refocus on and reprioritize in this season?
As I was reflecting on this, I felt drawn back to the earliest description of the first church in Acts 2:42–47:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day, those who were being saved. (ESV)
I love this simple passage because it reminds me of what should be normal for the church. The passage calls us back to the simple commitments and rhythms that should mark the church no matter what season it finds itself. Even as I looked at this text, I noticed two simple things.
First, I noticed what they were committed to as a body. These early followers of Jesus were marked by devotion. They were devoted to God’s Word (apostle’s teaching), one another (fellowship), table fellowship in the Gospel (Breaking of Bread), and prayer. These weren’t just nice ideas but lived realities they embraced with devotion. I couldn’t help wondering for myself, What would it look like to recommit to these simple things like God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship?
Secondly, I noticed their simple rhythms. It says in the text that each day they attended the temple and then broke bread in their homes. They embraced a simple model of the church in which they worshiped together and they fellowshipped together. They didn’t need a lot of programs or activities. No, they needed to gather in worship and to gather in smaller communities for care and fellowship. Here at Woodside, we seek to follow these rhythms through weekly Sunday Worship, and in smaller communities, we call Life Groups. But again, I couldn’t help wondering what it would look like for the church to reembrace these two simple rhythms in this season?
Disruption can certainly be exhausting, but it can also be a profound opportunity because it forces us to reconsider our priorities and what we call normal
Disruption can certainly be exhausting, but it can also be a profound opportunity because it forces us to reconsider our priorities and what we call normal. It has been a disruptive season for our church. There is no doubt about it. But what if this disruption is forcing us to come back to simple commitments and simple rhythms? What if it is helping us get back to the heart of church? Maybe we are starting to rediscover what our “new normal” is supposed to be.
What about for you? Where do you see disruption in your life, and what opportunities might God have for you in it? What are the things of old “normal” that you need to let go of, and what priorities might shape your new normal? Like me, you might be tired of the term, but I hope that you won’t miss the opportunity!