I’ve come to enjoy Sunday mornings, how about you? I miss people and I miss worship with others, but… I like not feeling rushed and stressed on Sundays- isn’t that what Sabbath is for?
People warned me: “if you fall out of the habit, you’ll never want to go back.”
So I intentionally let myself fall out of the habit. First, going to church should not just be about habit, but second and more important, I wanted to experience for myself what it is that I ask others to give up.
I’ve been an “every Sunday” person for a very long time. It’s my job. More than that, I believe in the church. I consider myself committed. I’m very passionate about the mission of the church and I do believe that the local church is the hope of the world.
I stayed “every Sunday” for a while during the pandemic, but it got harder and harder. I found myself impatient with technical glitches and bored by the format. I would wander around my house while I listened or did other things while the service played in the background. We did participate in most of the outdoor worship offerings.
I’ve been back in person, in the sanctuary, a few times since getting vaccinated. I was there the first Sunday when singing was allowed again and teared up to hear the people lift their voices for the Doxology, together, for the first time in over a year.
Going in person was fine, it was nice to see people and it was better than online. For me, communal worship is about the voices coming together as one, finding a unity in spirit, hopefully The Spirit. In participating in the liturgy and singing, we surrender our individual voices and join the chorus of saints, our worship is that surrender, which is difficult to do at home alone.
When I was growing up, there was a song we’d sing: “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together…” I am not the church by myself, and you are not the church by yourself, we are only the church together - church is the gathering of the believers.
So, Yes. We do need to go back. Watching online has its time and place. Maybe you aren’t ready to go back this Sunday or anytime this year.
Maybe worship isn’t the right first step back for you; try smaller gatherings or outside gatherings. You can volunteer to help with things that you can do by yourself or with just a couple of people.
Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California and author of The Purpose Driven Church, pointed out when they were shut down for months, that worship is only one of five purposes. They could not gather for in person worship, so they focused on the other four purposes: missions, discipleship, fellowship and evangelism. (watch podcast here)
If you have become a worship drop-out, what have you been doing to stay engaged in growing as a disciple of Jesus? Have you found a good podcast? Have you joined a Bible study? Have you grown closer to your small group or neighborhood group? Have you served in the community more?
The season of wilderness seems endless right now. God is always providing the manna and quail, but we do have to gather it up and partake.