It’s been quite a season in the life of the church. In 2020 there was such an excitement about the church moving online. Suddenly the church was able to reach people in every home. We swapped the pew for the sofa. A cold church for a warm home. Sunday best for pyjamas. And with this has come a change in people’s engagement with Church attendance, community life and service in the community. With church services now online, we can attend church and not have to be drawn into any rota, group or ministry. It is easier than ever to be a church consumer rather than a church member.
Online church is a real gift. If we feel ill, exhausted or not like socialising then we can log online and watch our church service from the comfort of our own home. But this should not become the norm, but rather the exception. Sadly for many of us, we have become discipled out of gathered church and discipled further into consumer church. We are called to be a part of a family, this will ultimately cost us in some way and we should expect it to do so.
If you have been out of gathered church for some time why not think about leaning back into the community. It is not just what you get out of it, but what you give to it.
Helpful tips for getting back into gathered church.
- Make an effort but take it steady.
You don’t need to run straight back into church every week. Make a conscious decision to start going back more and more. Build it back up over time. The more you lean in the more you will want to.
2. You get out of it what you put into it.
Being a part of a family is about playing our part within it. If you have been watching online church for a long while you will have lost the strength of your “servant muscle”. This means offering to be a part of a ministry (or could be church department or roster or group) that serves will help you feel a part of the family quicker and will help you build up the servant muscle.
3. Beware of projection. You are not sixteen any more.
We can be highly concerned about what others think: will they want to know why I have not been around? We can expect everyone else to have to do the hard work of speaking with you and if they don’t we read it as rejection. None of this may be the case. Sometimes we can be hard to welcome, we can sit in such a way (our body language can communicate) that oozes “do not speak to me” without us even realising it. Be aware of how you approach the church, are you making yourself approachable?
4. Arrive late and leave early
The first time you arrive you might like to arrive late. That way you can slip in the back and not make a fuss. You might also like to leave the moment the service ends, slipping out fast to avoid conversation. You are allowed to do this without guilt. Just be aware if this starts to become a usual practise.
5. Stay connected through all seasons
Make sure you stay connected with a small group from the church through all seasons. If you feel it or not this small group at some point will be your salvation and someone else’s at another point.