After planning for about a month ahead of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement lifting the stay-at-home order, Pastor Ed Young and his wife, Lisa, reopened their Grapevine megachurch, limiting services to a quarter occupancy Saturday and Sunday. The sermon was on “the new normal.”
“So many people wanted to get back to church,” Pastor Young of Fellowship Church told NBCDFW.
The church has the capacity to hold roughly 4,000 people, but it planned to limit the attendance at the sanctuary to 25 percent to voluntarily follow the restaurant guidelines. And for that, the megachurch had asked congregation members to make reservations. Those who attended also were asked to wear face masks, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
“We’re disinfecting the church. We’re parking people in every other parking space. So, it’s going to a completely contact-free experience,” Young said.
The pastor said he was aware of the criticism that might follow.
“I am not, nor is Lisa, nor is our church really run from criticism,” he said. “I understand that everyone has their opinion. I get it. And we listen to all opinions. We listen to criticism also, but we have to do what we believe what God wants us to do.”
Young preached about essential lessons that God is teaching Christians during this time of social distancing, helping them change the way they view change.
The conflict is inevitable, Young warned, adding that there will also be immeasurable growth in believers’ lives if they embrace change.
“God is not anti-quarantine,” he said. Adam and Ever were quarantined out of the Garden, Noah was quarantined in the Ark, and the devil wrongfully thought that Jesus was quarantined in the tomb forever.
The new normal, the pastor continued, comes in three phases.
The first phase is the normal phase when we go auto-pilot. The second phase is of abnormality where God is pushing us to the new normal and “where it really gets funky.” And the third phase is the new normal, which many resist.
Young cited Numbers 13:30-31: “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’”
The men, Young explained, feared a new normal.
He also read Numbers 14:1-4: “That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?’And they said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’”
The pastor explained that people often want to go back to normal or even abnormal, even if it means going back to slavery.
Our natural reaction is not to move into a new normal, he said.
“Allow God to edit your life; God is the author, you are the publisher. Embrace the present … Engage the future,” Young told the congregation.
“Faith moves us forward … Faith is futuristic,” he added, citing Philippians 3:13, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”