Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
You didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did happen. It didn’t happen all of a sudden. It was a slow fade. Life got busy. Sporting events and activities started popping up back to back. Church doors closed temporarily. Your schedule was much too hectic. So you missed one Sunday, just one…and then another…and another. Before you knew it, you looked back and realized that it had been months since you gathered with your church family. You want to go back. The Holy Spirit keeps nudging you, reminding you almost daily that you need to find a way to get back, but how? How can you show your face after being gone for so long? What will people think? What will they say? Will they judge you for staying away? Will they shame you? No! Absolutely not! Your church family will be genuinely happy to see you again. They have really, truly missed you, and they will be so very glad to see you again. Do not let fear keep you away from the house of the Lord. You only have to take the first step and go.
Don’t get too upset with yourself. We have all had busy seasons in our lives, myself included. Don’t beat yourself up for getting away from church. The important thing is to get yourself back. How can we get back to church and stay in church regularly? First, take the step to go. Make up your mind that tomorrow will be the day that you will go to church. Then, find an accountability buddy at church. Find someone who perhaps has a similarly hectic schedule and partner with that person to keep both of you accountable. If you begin missing services, that person will bring you back, and if your buddy misses, you in turn will bring him/her back.
Next, you have to remember that your church family truly does have the best intentions. They really want you to return to fellowship with them. While you have been gone, things may have changed. There may be new members, new activities, and we may feel totally out of sorts. It may feel uncomfortable. When the eyes of of church family land upon us, we automatically think the eyes are judging us for being gone so long, but in reality, those eyes are noticing you. They see a long last family member returning to the table. They are so excited to see you back. They may say things like, “I haven’t seen you here in a while.” Don’t take offense to these words. Instead take these words as words of encouragement. That person noticed you weren’t at church. They cared about you enough to notice your absence, and they cared enough to notice your presence. It was not a word of condemnation, but rather a word of encouragement. We must see the words for what they mean, and not for what we think the words mean.
Finally, I encourage you to get involved in your church. Find your niche. If you are involved in the activities of the church, it is a whole lot easier to stay involved. Don’t over commit yourself, but you absolutely must commit. I realize that life is busy enough, but you must commit yourself. When I first married my husband and moved my letter to his church (now our church), I felt like an outsider for a very long while. I felt like I didn’t belong. I attended regularly, but I didn’t feel at home. It was not until I made the move to involve myself. I offered to teach a Sunday School class, and then my husband and I became involved with the youth activities. I became active in our Ladies’ Ministry, and eventually was asked to be the church treasurer. Now, when I walk through those doors, it isn’t a chore. It isn’t a strange land or strange house. No, my friends, when I walk through those doors, I am truly at home. I am in a place surrounded by my brothers and sisters of another mother, but of the same Father. I am surrounded by the children of God. I am at home with my faith family. And when I miss services, even for one week, I feel like I have missed out on an important engagement. I can’t wait to get back!
Whether you fell out of church in a slow fade or left abruptly, I encourage you today to make up your mind that tomorrow will be the day that you get back to church. God really wants you back, and His kids have really been missing you too! Come on back to church, y’all! You will be so glad that you did!