Give me a word, Lord: GETTING BACK TO CHURCH

Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Today I’m going to share something that has been troubling my heart for a while, but it is one of those subjects that is kind of touchy, and I wasn’t quite sure that I should approach it. However, God keeps tugging at my heartstring so here I go. The question that keeps running rampant in my brain is how do we get people to come back to church? The reason its a touchy subject is because of COVID-19. A lot of people have chosen to stay home from corporate worship, and trust me, as a nurse practitioner I get it. I have seen this ugly virus up close and personal, and it is something to be feared. I agreed with changing services to on-line for a while. I liked the idea of parking lot worship temporarily, but oh how I missed worshipping together with my faith family. We are members of a small country church, and the members of that church are truly an extension of my blood family. I love those people. The shut down was hard, and I was delighted when we were finally able to open the doors for corporate worship once more. We did it cautiously with two separate services at first to allow everyone to spread out. We watched the numbers and the cases, and we gradually returned to our regular worship hours and activities. We have continued to do so utilizing much caution. Masks are worn when gathering in close knit areas. The new staple, hand sanitizer, is available in all areas. We aren’t passing the offering plate. We aren’t hugging and shaking hands. We are, however, coming together as a body of believers and worshipping our Lord and Savior as a family of believers, and I can not tell you what a blessing it is to be able to do so after that little hiatus we had to take.

The thing is a lot of people haven’t returned. Before anyone gets mad at me, please hear me out. I completely understand not returning for worship services if you are ill or if at high risk for complications should you contract COVID 19. I get that, and I DO NOT want anyone to put their health at risk. Please hear my heart. I am not trying to shame anyone. If you are chronically ill and high risk, by all means, keep doing on-line worship and stay safe. Please! My heart message today is for those who are have just gotten out of the habit of going to church because of the changes made due to COVID 19 or any other reason, and my fear is that once we get out of the habit, it’s too dog gone hard to get back into the habit. If we can shop in the stores, dine in restaurants, and go to our jobs daily, then probably, if we think about it, we can go to church too…especially when we realize that the church is actively taking precautions to keep everyone safe. And it’s not just COVID 19 that has caused this. As a society we are way too busy, and we tend to fill our schedule up with all of the things that matter to us, but then we don’t have time for church on Sunday. We have a family trip planned for the day, maybe a golf game, a baseball game, or it’s the only day of the week that we have off to catch up on things around the house. I get it. That’s the reality of life. I’ve been there myself. I’m not pointing fingers without pointing four right back at myself.

The thing is, we all get the same twenty four hours a day, everyday. We all get 1,440 minutes, and 86.400 seconds every single day. That is 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds in a week. We all get the same amount of time, the question is, how are we using those hours and minutes and seconds? Why do we not have time for church? I think the simplest answer is that we don’t make time for church. Those of you who know me, know that I am one of the busiest people around. I am always doing something. I work like a woman on a mission all day in the clinic on my work days, and then I work like a crazy woman around the house and farm on my days off. I’m up early, and I don’t stop until my head hits the pillow at night. But you want to know something? This family does not work on Sunday. We don’t hunt on Sunday. We don’t fish on Sunday. We do, however, cook a huge family meal to share with our whole family after church, we get dressed up, and we get ourselves to church. And we do it because we make going to church and worshipping our Lord and Savior with our family of believers a priority. We make God a priority. The way we see it is that God blesses us so much more than we deserve all week long. He blesses us with good jobs, food on our table, a roof over our head, a family to love, wonderful friends, and oh so much more. We don’t deserve those blessings, but He gives them to us freely, and we thank Him for them daily. But even more so, shouldn’t we go to the place designated as His house whenever the doors are open and worship and praise Him corporately with our family of believers? Shouldn’t we make worshipa priority?

It is so easy to get out of the habit of going to church. There was a time during my college years that I made school my priority. There just wasn’t enough time for church between work, classroom time, clinicals, and studying. I kept praying and talking to the Lord during those days, but I sorely lacked in the worship department. But somehow, with His grace and mercy, He pulled me through school, and over the years drew me closer to Him. He didn’t forget me during my church hiatus. He drew me back, tugged on my heartstrings, and called me to the perfect church for my family. I guarantee you that He hasn’t forgotten you either. It is true that we can worship alone. We can worship our Savior in a dark closet or in a crowd of a thousand people. Then why do we need to go to church to worship? We go so that we can encourage one another in the Word, glean wisdom from our teachers, preachers, and elders, and in a sense we are showing God that He is important to us and that He is our priority. If you have gotten out of the habit of going to church, how about getting back into the habit this week. I just know your faith family will be so happy to see you, and I am sure that you will receive a blessing! It’s hard to take that first step, but it is absolutely worth it! Take that step this Sunday. Let’s get back to church!

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