From a Pastor’s Heart
By Chris Rathbone
Sitting down with many of my fellow pastors, it doesn’t take long for the conversation to turn to one of us asking the question, “How’s your church doing?” The majority of the time the answer is always similar. It usually goes something like this, “Well, we’re doing pretty good, but I just can’t seem to get people to come back to church as they should!” Almost every pastor that I have had this conversation with says the same thing. Many folks just aren’t coming back to church services.
During the Covid fiasco, many churches and pastors did what they thought was right and helpful at the time to protect their church families. Our church did online services, outdoor services, and services inside with social distancing measures in place. There were a few times when there were several cases of Covid in our church family and we felt it necessary to cancel services. I would bring the message to our Facebook page. Our church bought a camera and other equipment to start streaming our services for the first time. We even bought an FM transmitter so folks could listen in their cars if they didn’t feel comfortable coming inside. The point is, that pastors and church leaders did all they could to be sure their church families could continue to worship together and be fed spiritually. Let me tell you from experience, that it was one of the most stressful times in my ministry. The pressure and stress of having to make decisions about how to continue to conduct services were sometimes overwhelming. If we had services some complained it was too risky. Others were upset if we didn’t have services and claimed we had no faith. Even when we did all we could to keep our church families gathering, even if it was a parking lot service that people could listen to in their car on the radio, many would not show up. How many times someone would say to me, “I can’t wait till we can have our worship services back inside the church!” To be honest, I’m still waiting for someone to show up! There are still folks saying they are afraid to come back to church because of Covid.
Now before you go off on me and accuse me of not caring about people, let me expound a little bit on why I’m writing about this topic. While there are still Covid cases going around, there is now a better understanding and treatment. I have a good friend in the hospital right now being treated for Covid. But for the most part, folks go through the symptoms and recover. There have been a few cases even in my church and thankfully everyone has recovered well. For sure no one is denying that the virus can be very serious for some people. However, let me give you some examples of some personal experiences I’ve had since things opened up again.
While in a local restaurant with over a hundred people eating and talking, a lady told my wife that she hadn’t been to church since Covid started. She was afraid to be around people that might give it to her……
One family who hadn’t been in a long time told me they just weren’t comfortable coming back just yet because they didn’t want to take the chance of their kids getting sick. However, social media shows them at amusement parks, ballgames, school events, birthday parties, etc, etc.
Even some elderly folk tell me they just don’t get out much because of the same reason. However, their beauty shop visits, grocery shopping, family reunions, decoration days, and loafing trips tell a different story.
At this point, there is really no excuse for someone who has been a Christian for years to justify laying out of church constantly. As a pastor, I’ve reached the point where it is just too serious of a time in history to be tiptoeing around people’s feelings when it comes to worship attendance. Sometimes we do get sick and can’t come, someone elderly physically does not have the health to be able to attend, and many have to work some weekends, some are caring for family members and can’t come. Even my family goes on a vacation and misses church services. I’m talking about consistently laying out of the church and using every excuse in the world not to come when one is perfectly capable of doing so. As a pastor, it gets wearisome begging and pleading with people to come back to church when they should know better.
Here is the conclusion. Regardless of all the excuses, we can come up with, there is really only a couple of reasons for constantly laying out of services. Folks are either really not saved or they do not love Jesus as much as they should. Jesus always works through the church. We worship together as the church, we are taught in scripture to assemble as the church, we are disciplined together as the church, we work and serve to spread the gospel as the church, and we are the body of Christ as the church and the body cannot be separated.
I love y’all, I really do! That’s why I’m telling you: QUIT FOOLING AROUND AND GET YOUR FAMILY BACK TO CHURCH SERVICES! Jesus is coming, the world stage is being set for the end, and your children need Jesus more than anything in this world, your marriage needs Jesus more than anything, you need Jesus more than anything! STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND GO WORSHIP JESUS BECAUSE HE IS WORTHY!
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.
You can read more Good Christian News from Pastor Chris HERE.
You can connect with Preacher Chris on Facebook HERE.