Hey I’m back behind the keyboard and it feels really good. The goal is to write smaller articles, more often, and give myself fewer excuses as to why I can’t write. Not sure how often, I’ll be writing, but I can tell you that it feels good to be doing this again.
As a pastor, you get to hear why people choose to do their activities, who they dread spending the holidays with, etc.. You also get a lot of questions about why church members act the way they do. This often opens up a conversation about why that person has not been in church in weeks, months, or even years. Whether I am asking a student or an adult, the answers are a lot alike in their nature. I started a practice, just today in my student ministry. I noticed that we had several students who had just silently slipped away and had stopped coming to church. So, this morning, I decided that each Sunday morning after announcements, I would sit down in my office and text all of my students who were no longer coming. On day one, God started to move. Three of them showed up for church today, and I had a quality conversation with one that gave us both perspective on why people are leaving the church and not coming back.
In my conversation today, and coupled with similar conversations I have had in the past month, I learned two things: 1) People leave church for a variety of reasons and many times it was not something that happened at church or to them. It is usually personal, and often deals with basic life getting in the way and the person simply falling out of the habit of church. And 2) Even though the reasons for leaving were wide and varied, the reasons they don’t come back are almost all identical- they are afraid of being judged for being away for so long that it is too uncomfortable to come back. This is a reason and an answer that I have struggled with as I have prayed about it and asked for wisdom. The biggest reason that it is a struggle is the fact that to some degree, they are absolutely right and that is something that all of us who call Christ our Lord need to work on in our daily walk. Yet, after a month of thinking on this, having these conversations, and asking God to grant me wisdom on the matter, I have come to the conclusion that God wants me to deliver the truth- so here it is.
To all of my friends, family, acquaintances, and whoever reads this that is hesitant about returning to church: I understand that the reason you are so reluctant to return is the fear of being judged for being away for so long. Here is the truth- someone WILL do it. I’m sorry- that’s the truth, I wish there was a way around it, but there isn’t. We are always going to be faced with people who are going to forget that God’s Grace extends past them onto us. We are always going to come across people who have forgotten what all they have been forgiven for and they will direct their self-righteousness on us. It is going to happen…….BUT…………..(oh c’mon you knew there was going to be but in here)…………You also endure the same type of hypocritical person at your workplace too don’t you? You also endure the same type of hypocritical person at school don’t you? You also endure the same type of hypocritical person in your family don’t you? I feel confident the answer is yes. However, we still go to work, we still go to school, and we still hang around and see family. Why then do we tolerate the minority of ignorance there, but not at church? You go to work because you need money, you go to school because you need an education, you see family because we need family- stands to reason that we should go to church because we need Jesus in our lives.
Let me encourage you to get back into church. I am willing to bet that the overwhelming response to your return will be that of excitement and rejoicing; much like I am willing to bet what judgment you will be getting from a select few will be minimal and if you think about it, inconsequential. Now is a great time to return to church and get reacquainted with your savior or better yet, establish a relationship with Him for the first time. I think that once you give it a chance, it will be the best thing you’ve done for yourself in a long time. There is no better time than now. God is waiting and He is excited that you are coming home.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach