We have been living through an 18-month global pandemic that has drained the emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical health of people across our nation. It has been exhausting for everyone for many reasons. Many had family members and friends pass away as a result of COVID-19. Some have lost their livelihood, while others have lost friendship because of differing opinions. And the suicide rate has skyrocketed. So, you could say it's been a tough 18-months.
"'I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.'” (Psalm 122:1).
King David writing on the return of the exiles to Jerusalem said, "I was glad." But he wasn't just happy for happy sake. He was glad because they were going to God's House - the temple. When our church shut its doors for 3 months it was the toughest decision that my wife and I, as pastors, ever had to make. 3 months of online church took its toll. But we decided to re-open our church before the government gave us permission. We could not wait any longer as we watched our church struggle emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. So, yes, we re-opened. I won't apologize for it - even though we had people leave the church because they thought we did not care. To be honest, we cared too much.
"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" (Hebrews 10:25).
Our church has emerged 15 months later bigger, better, and bolder! Our attendance is beyond 100% return. We have seen over 900 decisions for Jesus since the beginning of the pandemic. Our income has increased. Our online reach has expanded. We have raised more leaders. We have given more to missions & outreach.
A PANDEMIC CANNOT STOP YOUR PURPOSE!
The church has a purpose! It is not to shutter in fear or lock our doors. I have heard many pastors say during the height of the pandemic, "Our number one priority is to keep you safe." I respectfully disagree. Tell that to the church in Nigeria, China, Afghanistan. Many of these places risk their lives everyday for the sake of the Gospel. You see, my number one purpose is to reach you with God's love, disciple you, and get you to Heaven. A pandemic cannot, should not, will not stop the true church from its purpose!!!
CHURCH ATTENDANCE MATTERS
Church attendance matters! That is a fact! It cannot be disputed by any person who studies Scripture! As we watch current events unfold we quickly discover that nations across the planet make church attendance a priority. Nigerian Christians are murdered for their faith at the highest levels in the world right now, and yet, they still gather as a church!
"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20).
There are just some things that watching church online cannot do. It does not allow you to build community, participate in communion with other believers, have hands laid on you when you are sick, and so much more. I have heard many pastors de-legitimize church attendance. Shame on them. Gathering believers together mattered so much to God that He sent His Son to die on the cross so we can re-gather in Heaven. So, yes, church attendance and gathering matters!
“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” Dwight L. Moody
I am a fanatic about the church. Of course, the church has issues. It is led by people. But I still believe in the church. I believe it is the HOPE OF THE WORLD. I believe the church is the very best of the world. Why would we not want to gather with the best the world has to offer?
I will never ever forget 2020-21. Because I will never, ever second-guess the value of the church!
The world needs the church!
I need the church!
You need the church!
We need the church!