“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:23-25
My brothers and sisters at Green Pond Bible Chapel, I want to gently encourage you to consider resuming gathering with the church. While watching our services via livestream has been a blessing in the midst of lockdown, it is not sufficient to sustain our spiritual health in the long run.
Let me walk through five spiritual reasons to resume gathering, and then I’ll mention two practical considerations and one caution.
1. Being with our church family encourages us. When I see the gathered church I am reminded of the work God is doing in us, to us, and through us. Prolonged absence from the church body dampens that encouragement, and therefore can cause discouragement. It’s not hard to see why John wrote, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face” (3 John 14; Paul says the same in Romans 15:24 & 1 Corinthians 16:7).
2. Hearing the live singing of praise to God with our church family inspires us. The single act of the church singing together helps us to mature as disciples of Jesus. Consider Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Singing praise to Jesus is a two way street—we praise God and encourage each other. I miss hearing your voices!
3. Seeing the church reminds us to serve and pray. When I see the individuals who make up our church family I am reminded of their needs and how I can bear their burdens and intercede for them. The old proverb “Out of sight, out of mind” is legit. It’s much easier to be mindful of the needs in our body when we are regularly seeing each other.
4. When I hear live preaching I am more engaged in the Scripture. This may not be true for everyone, but it is for me and I would guess it’s true for most people. There’s no experience like hearing the Word as someone is preaching live and growing in knowledge and love of Jesus.
5. When we are isolated from the church, we are more easily drawn into temptation. The fact is the physical gathering of the church gives a shot in the arm to our battle against sin. All week we face challenging circumstances walking as a minority in an unbelieving culture, but on Sunday we are the majority. We walk together.
In addition to those spiritual reasons to gather, let me offer a few practical reasons.
1. We have the right kind of space for you. We have been blessed with facilities that allow us to offer corporate worship space for those who prefer to be in a strict mask only environment, as well as space for those who feel wearing a mask inhibits their ability to participate in corporate worship. We are taking advantage of great weather and worshipping outside as much as possible. We ‘ve made improvements to our fellowship hall to facilitate seating limits and social distancing, including moving in sanctuary chairs and installing air conditioning.
2. Kingdom Kids is up and running. If you need child care for children under the age of 5 we have you covered. We’ve adapted our program to account for the recommendations from the state of New Jersey. As we have more volunteers available, we’ll expand our Kingdom Kids programs.
Finally, let me offer one word of caution. If you are in an at risk group, please be wise. Saints who are at risk should stay home until they are comfortable resuming corporate worship. There’s no magic bullet for that. We love and miss you, but we can wait a little longer until we see you again.
We’ve made adjustments. We’ve got tons of hand sanitizer. We’re social distancing. We’ve got masks. Let’s watch out for each other, and let’s not neglect meeting together. It’s time to gather again. Lord willing, I’ll see you Sunday at 10:10 AM.