The transition is moving forward. Every week, more churches are beginning the process and stages of opening the doors of the church facilities for in-person services.
We are back.
I get it. The church never closed. The church is the people, not the building. Someone reminds me of those points daily.
But the doors to the church facilities closed. The opportunity to gather for worship in-person closed. A lot has transpired over the past few months.
Now it is time to return to in-person gathered worship. Though this statement is admittedly not theologically precise, it is time to "return to church." Why is it important to get back in the habit of regular and faithful attendance? Why should those connected to a local congregation make a new commitment to attend as regularly as possible? Here are five reasons:
1. The Bible mandates we gather for worship. The writer of Hebrews is unequivocal: "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" (Heb. 10:25, NLT). Gathering for worship is not an optional activity. It is not an occasional activity. It is an ongoing and regular commitment.
2. The Bible emphasizes the importance of the local church. Think about it. After the four Gospels, almost all of the New Testament is about the local church or directed to the local church. Throughout the New Testament, different local congregations met together and worshipped together. It is simply what believers do.
3. When we gather together, we encourage each other. I am a classic introvert. Admittedly, I adjusted well to streaming services and Zoom community groups. But I readily admit I did not get or give the same level of encouragement as those times when we were physically present with each other. Look at Hebrews 10:25 again. The act of gathering is an act of encouragement.
4. When we gather together, we encourage our pastors. The encouragement of one another includes the encouragement of our pastors. They desperately need it. You cannot know the challenges of a pastor unless you have been one or are one. The stress and responsibilities they have had during the pandemic have been especially challenging. The world acts surprised when a pastor takes his life. Sadly, I know the depths of pain many pastors feel. There are plenty of critics and discouragers for pastors. I pray that many people will return to the in-person gatherings with new levels of commitment. Our pastors will be greatly encouraged.
5. We grow spiritually when we commit to faithful attendance. We grow as a believer in Christ when we have a committed prayer life. We grow when we are committed to read Scripture daily. We grow when we share our faith regularly. We grow when we serve in ministry. And we grow when we commit to attend worship services faithfully. That attendance is a spiritual discipline. It is a vital and necessary act toward greater spiritual maturity.
The pandemic and quarantine have been transformational moments for our world and our churches. We now have the incredible opportunity to hit the reset button in our own lives. For many Christians, committed church attendance was waning before the pandemic. God has reminded us, perhaps even given us a major wake-up call, how really important the gathered church is.
Get ready to return to the gathered church. But do so this time with a new enthusiasm and faithful commitment every week.
It's a habit we cannot and should not neglect.
Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
For the original article, visit churchanswers.com.
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