The year 2020 has proved to be an extraordinary year as we deal with both the trauma of Covid-19 itself and the socio-economic fallout of the efforts to contain and control the disease.

In the wake of these strange months of quarantine and isolation we have heard repeated reference to the “new normal” that lies beyond. This new normal refers to an extended need to continue the awkward and un-natural discipline of social distancing and the economic shock which is likely to persist for some time. It also signals the likely degradation of opportunity and security for vast numbers of ordinary people, and the yet unknown psychological and cultural shifts fuelled by fear, isolation, and the grief of losing both people and the familiar rhythms of everyday life.

The new normal is a shifted landscape, and one that has not left our churches and the many ministries we are engaged in untouched. Over the months of this pandemic churches have faced new challenges, higher demand on certain ministries, and an almost wholesale migration to video conferencing and social media, shrinking numbers and income, but also renewing engagement and opportunities in some unexpected quarters.

This blog forum seeks to bring together a broad spectrum of evangelical church leaders to share and reflect on this shifted landscape. This space will give voice to both coalface leaders working in our communities and those with a more specialist eye. We hope to explore and share the concerns, struggles, hopes, and missional insight of this collective of leaders to resource and encourage the wider church.

The wine of the new covenant, the gospel of life through Christ alone, by faith in His gracious atoning death and bodily resurrection, and the surrendered transformation birthed and grown within us by the Holy Spirit and His Word, will need a new wineskin in the landscape of the new normal. And, it is the Holy Spirit who will supply and inspire this new wine skin within our hearts and imaginations as we seek Him together.

This is a cultural moment of both loss and promise, and if we listen to the Holy Spirit, earnestly pray, and live out a fearless Gospel, I believe it will become a season of renewal.

Dr. M. Bart Woodhouse (Methodist Church Planter, Kent)