“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
This past two years have been a particularly unprecedented time in many ways, but one which especially stands out is the fact that for many weeks churches were shut and we could only worship through livestream services. With frequently changing regulations it was hard to keep on top of what was and wasn’t open, where you could or couldn’t go, and how many people you could meet at a time. With all the uncertainty and confusion around what was and wasn’t safe it was easy to get out of the habit of regular church attendance.
Maybe you started out with good intentions at the beginning of lockdown, logging in to the Facebook live streams each Sunday morning. But then the other notifications on your phone distracted you. Maybe as the summer months approached you took the opportunity to go to the beach, intending to catch up with the service on demand later in the week, but you never quite got around to it. And by the time church did reopen you had got so used to your new Sunday morning routines that you didn’t quite make it back to an in-person service on a regular basis.
Watching church online is a great option to have when we are unable to gather together, either due to government guidance or personal circumstances that require you to take extra precautions. But it cannot replace in full what we benefit from when we meet together for fellowship in person. When we gather for church we spend time in worship, giving God adoration; and we spend time being taught, receiving insight and wisdom from God. But we also get to encourage one another. We get to build up the body of believers, stirring one another to love and good works. We get to be a blessing to the other members of our church, loving them, spurring them on and inspiring them to go out into their day to day life doing more to share the gospel with those who don’t yet know Jesus.
So make this a year when you commit to church like never before. Make it your priority, the first thing that goes in your diary each week. You need church, but church also needs you. We are called to be the body of Jesus, and the body can’t function fully if some parts are missing. If you have got out of the habit of coming to worship regularly or have lost the pattern of meeting up in groups to share encouragement take the opportunity at the start of a new year to restart.
Pray for your church. Lift up the team that serves. Ask God to give them increased wisdom and guidance to lead us deeper in our relationship with Him.