On Sunday, January 17, I read a statement in both worship services about returning to the church campus for in-person worship. The target audience of that statement were those who have not yet returned to the church campus on Sunday mornings since the beginning of Covid. Since I only read this statement once, I’ve decided to capture the essence of it in this week’s blog for those who may have missed it.

FIRST—We are very thankful for livestream, especially in the early months of Covid! It was a lifesaver for us as a congregation and it allowed us to stay in touch as a church family. Livestream is a huge blessing as it allows us to connect with many of you who physically cannot be here right now.

SECOND—If you have not been with us in person over the past 11 months, please know that we miss you. Our elders and staff have been praying for you and we want you to know that we love you and care about you. We are one church family, and when anyone is missing, we all suffer. Corporate worship is a vital discipline in the Christian life.

THIRD—If you have not been in attendance since Covid due to an issue of conscience—namely, you believe that attending a public worship service has excessive and unusual health risks for you or a loved one—we want you to know that as you are seeking to be true to your own conscience that is pleasing to God!

FOURTH—If on the other hand you’re staying away out of fear, habit or for the sake of convenience, we want you to know that it is time to come back—we love you and miss you! The convenience and habit of livestreaming is something that we can easily fall into. It’s important to remember that the Greek word ekklesia (church) means a gathered community in person. Biblically, there really is no such thing as “going to church online.”

Hebrews 10:25 states very clearly, “we are not to give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.” This speaks to the danger of not coming together on a regular basis. Any suspension of gathered worship is to be temporary unless we are physically unable to do so anymore.

As a reminder, our staff has done an incredible job of overseeing Covid safety protocols. For example: UV lighting (to kill the virus) has been added to our Worship Center HVAC system; we regularly sanitize and disinfect all surfaces; and touchless faucets and soap dispensers have been added in all the bathrooms. Becky and I have been attending the campus since Covid began and we feel very safe here. We also offer a “masks required at all times” worship option in our Activity Center for those who would feel more comfortable with this as a starting point for returning.

We do look forward to the day when we can be back on campus together. Until then, let us continue to pray for one another and encourage one another and reach out to others for the sake of the gospel.