• Chris Steele

Getting Back to Normal!

Chris' Corner -- Sunday, March 14, 2021

It’s hard to believe it was just a year ago this week, when we had our world turned upside down by the pandemic. After nearly two months of worshiping and having Bible study at home and online, we came back to a limited schedule of only Sunday morning for public worship. We are grateful to have our regular in-person Bible studies to begin once again.

Long before COVID there were members who were not attending regularly. Some had not been seen at public worship for some time. This has always been a challenge for elderships and faithful Christians to encourage and win back delinquent members.

After a year of pandemic news flooding our airwaves, these numbers have increased. Some for the same reasons as before; some related to the pandemic. It’s hard to tell how this will all shake out in the coming months as the number of virus cases sees a significant decline.

For our last public worship on March 15, 2020, our attendance dropped by 40. No doubt there were widespread concerns and outright fear over what we were hearing about the virus. Today, we still have 22 members we have not seen face to face in a year (unless it was at their homes, assisting them in some way while distancing ourselves). Some came out for worship a few times, but for health concerns went back to staying at home once again.

In a limited (thejenkinsinstitute.com) study among churches of Christ who have returned to in-person worship, most saw a small drop in attendance even while cases of the virus were surging in their area. About a third reported their attendance was not affected. About a sixth of respondents said their numbers dropped dramatically.

The majority of congregations said, knowing what they know now, they still would have gone to online and home worship, as a precaution. Some would consider doing things differently, while others stayed open during those early days.

We need to be careful to maintain a loving concern for those who still need encouragement to come out again. Demonstrating a judgmental attitude or jabbing at them with our opinions is counter-productive. Let’s take the time to understand their situation. Is it health concerns or something else? How can we help? Christian brethren will show love and compassion with humility.

Think of Paul’s words, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1–2). We also can benefit from a dose of 1 John.

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