Dear Friend: Getting Back into Church

Dear Friend,

Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while, and I really miss seeing you at church gatherings. You have been missing out on wonderful times of worship and fellowship. I’m sure you have your reasons for stepping away for some time, but I would love to see you back this Sunday.

Maybe you have just gotten lazy or distracted by the things around us. It is easy to do. I get distracted, myself, from time to time. The world has a way of pulling us in several different directions. Let me encourage you like Jesus did with the Ephesians in Revelation 2: Return to your first love! Set your priorities straight again. Set aside time every first day of the week to worship the Lord.

Maybe you were hurt by someone or something in the church. These things are never easy to navigate, but I am confident that if we can simply sit down and talk, we could clear things up. None of us are perfect. I do not claim to be perfect and neither does anyone else in our church. You know the old saying, those who are closest to you can hurt you the most. Families have disputes, but we are still family. Let’s try to work toward reconciliation.

Maybe you are mad at God about something. Do you really think that moving farther away from the Lord during your struggles is the best thing to do? I would encourage you to draw near to God and cry out to Him. Do it with us, in congregational worship and as we support one another.

Maybe you are confused about living the Christian life in such a radically pluralistic society. Your faith is being challenged daily in many different spheres. There are moral, ethical, and political questions coming up continuously, and the Christian Faith is being portrayed as archaic and useless, even hateful. You know this is not true. You know that the love of Christ is for all people. Christians are the ones who are called to be peacemakers and to pray for all people. We are the ones who work for justice and reconciliation. And, yes, we are the ones who uphold strong morals and values in our day. Don’t shrink away now! Come to church and be better equipped to face each and every day with confidence in the Faith, seeking to be truth-tellers, Gospel-sharers, and genuine servants of all.

Maybe you have wanted to come back, but it has been so long that you are embarrassed. You might be thinking that the awkwardness of coming back to church at this point would be overwhelming. You don’t want to hear people say things like, “Where have you been?” And you don’t want strange looks from folks. You know what? You’re probably overthinking it! Now, there is the possibility that someone may say something stupid, but that’s always a possibility when a group of people get together! Stupidity is lurking every time you leave your house. Yet, for the most part, I’m confident that you will be warmly welcomed back and loved like you always have been. We have missed you, seriously.

I shouldn’t conclude without sharing the confession that maybe I haven’t said or done enough as your minister. If so, I want to sincerely apologize. If you know me at all, then you know that I respect people’s privacy. I don’t want to be nosey and get into your business. I also don’t want to be pushy. I have known too many ministers like that, and I don’t want to be one of them. That is why I have written you this letter. This is a simple note to let you know that I am thinking about you (whether you realize it or not), to encourage you to come back to church, and to let you know that you will be welcomed when you do come back. You know church participation is good for you; it is good for your soul. You also know it is the right thing to do as a Christian. Let me/us help support you in your spiritual journey. I hope to see you soon! Take care.

Your Friend,