I have a habit of reading several books at once. It’s not because I’m being productive. It’s because I get distracted. A new book interests me, so I’ll pause reading other books to read the new one. When I come back to the older book, I need to remind myself what it’s all about. Maybe as we resume church in-person this week, you have that same feeling.
Over the past few years, we’ve had to get used to switching between the normal and the socially distanced modes of life. After getting used to be being socially distanced, we need to remind ourselves what the normal life is like again. We need to build up those ‘gathering-for-church’ muscles which may have atrophied over the previous months.
This will involve some risk.
For some of us, it feels risky meeting again in big groups. We’ll feel nervous and hesitant about returning to church and would prefer to keep doing church online. Let me gently suggest that unless you have an underlying health condition that makes meeting in larger groups unwise, you shouldn’t delay returning to church for too long.
Of course, the reality is that Christian community always involves risk. It’s difficult making and keeping commitments to a community, getting to know people deeply, becoming relationally vulnerable, being inconvenienced by others, serving, and giving your time and resources. But that’s the picture of Christian community that the Bible gives us. This is the context in which God changes and transforms us into the likeness of his Son.
Christian community is risky. But it’s absolutely vital for your spiritual health.
The writer to the Hebrews gives us this encouragement. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 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” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Speaking personally, I’m really excited to resume in-person church. I’m looking forward to seeing you all, to seeing you grow in your faith in Jesus, to see you serve and proclaim Jesus, and to welcoming new people to church. The local church is far more significant than we can ever realise. It’s God’s appointed means of transforming his people and reaching the world with the gospel.
So welcome back to church! We’re better together!