And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
It is always exciting to see and greet new visitors each week. I enjoy getting to briefly meet the individual or family and learn more about where they are from and what brought them to Burlington Baptist. Since the COVID disruption last year, when we couldn’t meet in person for worship, it has been a blessing to see church members (individuals and families) return to church for the first time since COVID began. Last year (May 24, 2020), when we were allowed to return to in-person worship, we had an attendance of 120. We are so thankful that a year later people feel more and more comfortable returning to worship together. Just this past Sunday, my heart was filled with joy to see Ken and Debbie Louden, Buddy Rice, Jean and Lori Jordan, Dave and Phyllis Chandler, Roy and Donna Cantrell, Andy Matheny, Dale Scroggin and others. I know I have left several more out (I’m sorry for that).
Why is it so special to see these church members at church? Well, the Scriptures speak of the church as a family. We are to love each other like brothers and sisters. The Scriptures also exhort us to come together as family to worship our Lord and to encourage one another. COVID was so disruptive because it kept us from gathering together as a family. I am thankful that technology (Facebook, video streaming, Zoom, etc.) allowed us to stay connected and continue to grow together in the Lord. And, I am thankful that we are able to stream our services on Sunday for those who are not able to come, those who are still fearful of COVID, and for those who are away for vacation or other events. I hope you stay connected with the church even when you are away or not able to attend.
For the past 15 months it has been odd as a pastor to not exhort and encourage people to be faithful in their church attendance and worship. It is a DANGEROUS habit to neglect meeting together. It is time to announce those dangers and I want to do that in love. Before the availability of vaccines and during the high positivity rates of COVID, it was wise for our vulnerable folks to take all precautions. We certainly want people to be wise, safe and healthy. However, vaccines have now been available for several months and most people are returning to most of their pre-COVID routines.
Unfortunately, many who were attending church pre-COVID have gotten out of the routine of going to church. Some have stayed connected online but the number of people watching services online has decreased for over a year. It is time for all who are able to get back to church. The enemy wants you to delay your return as long as possible. The enemy wants you to remain in fear and isolation from the family. In Scriptures, believers are often compared to sheep and sheep are in the most danger when they get isolated from the rest of the flock. It is important for shepherds to go after the wayward sheep and bring them back into the fold.
I think there are real spiritual dangers when Christians choose to view their church’s weekly service online for reasons that are not health-related. God has designed us to grow in our faith, persevere, and flourish as we physically gather together weekly to worship Him and to encourage one another in the faith. You need the encouragement of your church family and your life group. If we have failed to reach out to you during the pandemic, please forgive us. We tried hard to keep up with our senior adults and widows, but I realize that many of our church folks might feel neglected, isolated, or that nobody cares about them. I want each of you to know that you are a valuable part of God’s family and Burlington Baptist Church. We miss you. We want you to get back to church, grow in your faith, and be used for the Lord’s purposes. I hope to see many of you in the next few weeks. Our services are at 8:30 and 10:45 each Sunday. On June 6th, our 10:45 service will be in the field below the activities center. That would be an awesome day for you to return. I can’t wait to see you!