For the Church to come back to you
I invite you to church (or back to church) — Ministry of Hope with Melanie Redd
There is something that God put deep within our souls that NEEDS to be around other believers.
Listen to the wise words of David Mathis:
“Worshiping Jesus together may be the single most important thing we do. It plays an indispensable role in rekindling our spiritual fire and keeping it burning.
Corporate worship brings together God’s word, prayer, and fellowship, and so makes for the greatest means of God’s ongoing grace in the Christian life.” (Source noted below).
As an example of this… I sing in the choir at my church.
As much as I enjoy a great solo, there is nothing quite the intricate and beautiful music of a choir that sings in harmony while being accompanied by a group of instrumentalists. It’s amazing! It’s beautiful!
Reason Two – You need support & accountability.
I had a friend in college who swore that he could be a great Christian all by himself. He didn’t need the church, the fellowship, or accountability. I have no idea where he is today, but I think he must have grown weary walking all by himself.
We were NOT made to walk through this Christian life all by ourselves.
We are part of an incredible team. It’s the members of a football team huddling up before a big game.
When you and I skip church, we miss the huddle. We go out into the “game” of life unprepared and all alone. God created us to be surrounded by and supported by our teammates.
Reason Three – We need you and your gifts.
When you met Jesus as Savior, He specially gifted YOU with a spiritual gift. One of the best places to use this gift is within (and in association with) a local body of believers.
Because you are away, there are gaping holes. No one else can fill that role that was specially designed by God for you!
You are the only one who can meet that particular need and serve in that particular way.
Reason Four – Your family and friends need your testimony.
You are the pivotal piece in someone else’s spiritual journey.
Your kids, grandkids, spouse, extended family, friends, neighbors, and/or co-workers are watching your life.
None of us live in isolation.
All of us make an impact!
The sheer testimony that you give when you get up and take part weekly in corporate worship is powerful. Your actions will affect others.
Reason Five – The Bible instructs us to gather together in groups to worship.
I’m sure you know this reason, but I couldn’t really leave it out. The writer of Hebrews put it this way:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25-26)
I’m finished with my plea for you to come back and join us. I know it’s hard sometimes to regularly attend a church.
I’m a pastor’s wife, and there are some days when I don’t want to get up and go to church.
I know you may have been deeply hurt by the church or some of the people in the church.
Don’t let that keep you away from all of the good things!
Church attendance is worthwhile and a beneficial endeavor.
Why don’t you just take it one week at a time?
Here’s what I suggest for this week:
- Tell the Lord that you don’t want to go, but you will do it anyway.
- Decide to attend one service this week.
- Tell 3 friends that you will attend, and invite them to pray for you.
- Make yourself go. Just do it – force yourself to walk through the doors.
- Reward yourself afterward. Take yourself to lunch or dinner.
- Be willing to try it again.
So, what do you think?
- Are you involved in church? Why or why not?
- Have you stopped attending? I’d love to hear why?
- What might draw you back into attendance?
- How can I pray for you today?
I always enjoy hearing from you!
Were you blessed by what you read?
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© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Further, excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Why I’m Not Coming Back to Your Church
By An Anonymous Christian
You may have wondered why you haven’t been seeing me around lately. Frankly, I won’t be back.
I wanted to stay, and I wish things could have worked out between us. Maybe you don’t realize how your church looked from my perspective.
Take a look and maybe you’ll understand why I’m not coming back to your church.
You held me hostage in my own home.
I’d been visiting for a couple of months when you started a capital campaign. Two members knocked on my door with a pledge card—and they wouldn’t leave until I signed it.
Did I bring this on myself by putting tithe checks in the offering plate without joining? Still, I was a visitor—certainly not ready for a long-term financial commitment to your church.I wish I’d had the backbone to explain this to your determined solicitors. Instead, to get them my house, I signed the pledge card—and never set foot in your church again.
Lesson for the church: Be careful how you train your volunteers. I have little doubt they were urged to bring back completed pledge cards. Their zeal to comply overcame their common sense.
You didn’t reach out.
We filled out the pew card. We introduced ourselves after the worship service. You sent one email, and we responded: “We would love a chance to meet with you and learn more about the church.”
If you can’t bother to assertively follow up with someone who is showing active interest in your church, you clearly don’t care. We’re moving on.
Lesson for the church: We must have slipped through the cracks—but a foolproof follow-up system is non-negotiable. One misstep here can bring a quick end to a promising relationship.
You offered too much responsibility, too soon.
Maybe you thought we’d be flattered when you suggested we become Sunday school teachers on our first visit with you.
Instead, we questioned your judgment. If you’re willing to put strangers into leadership roles, who might be in charge of our children? Why are you so desperate for workers?
Lesson for the church: Leadership development is a good thing. Notice the word “development” in there.
You saw me as a number.
You loved it when I started visiting your Sunday school class. You added me to the roll and even assigned me a bar code so you could track when I was there.
That might not have felt so strange if you had showed equal interest in me as a person. But people turned right back to their conversations with the friends they’d known for years. No one suggested sitting together during worship or meeting for lunch after church. If not for the bar code, I doubt anyone noticed when I stopped coming.
Lesson for the church: Yes, data is useful—and increasingly important in a data-driven world. But personal connection is essential.
You made it all about fun.
Friendship and fellowship are important for believers, and your church clearly knows it. The youth group went skiing and built bonfires and traveled to out-of-state amusement parks.
They didn’t take meals to the sick. They didn’t help the elderly with home repairs. They didn’t visit the nursing home or take warm socks to the homeless.
I want my kids to grow up with a heart for serving others. They aren’t learning it here.
Lesson for the church: Remember your purpose. The kingdom of God is not a social club.
You hired all your family members.
We saw it happen gradually over the years. You hired your spouse. You hired your children. Salaries and benefits noticeably improved as they came on staff. Then you stopped sharing financial information with the church.
Your son didn’t have a heart for leading the youth group—but he needed the money. Your other relatives didn’t pull their weight, and you let them coast.When a longtime associate pastor bid farewell in tears—making way for one more member of your family—we knew it was time for us to depart as well.
Lesson for the church: When everyone on the paid staff shares the same DNA, something is wrong. Genetic diversity will give you greater credibility, better checks and balances, and a stronger ministry.
You put your anger in writing.
When our family decided to leave your ministry, we knew you wouldn’t be overjoyed. We were heavily involved, and our departure would be a loss.
Still, we were surprised by your letter—blasting us for leaving, impugning our character, and casting doubt on everything we had done within your ministry. We had done our best to depart on good terms.
The letter—on church letterhead, bearing your signature—remains in our files as a reminder not to return.
Lesson for the church: You’re not immune to anger and hurt, but lashing out doesn’t serve you. I think there may be a few Bible verses about this. You might try searching for “tongue.”
Yes, these things really happened.
You may find it hard to believe these things could happen in the church today. But all of them did happen—not all at the same church, and not all at the same time, but all in the life of one believer.
If you have the uncomfortable feeling that, just maybe, the author of this article once attended your church, you may be right.
And if you think these events could never have happened in your church, think again. The senior pastor and other leaders probably weren’t aware of how that Sunday school class responded to a new member or how volunteers behaved in a visitor’s home.I’m not identifying myself, because I don’t want to embarrass the churches involved. But if I encountered this many dismaying incidents, it’s a good bet people in your church have encountered some too.
You may have heard about the “dones”—active, committed people of faith who end up leaving the church, feeling alienated.
It’s a phenomenon I can understand.
After moving to a new city, I visited more than two dozen congregations in search of a church home. I had some wonderful experiences that I fondly remember—the church that gave each visitor a homemade pie, the Sunday school class that left a small gift on my doorstep, the barbecue for prospective members to meet one another.
One church in particular made an impression. I had visited only once, but a few weeks later, a member recognized me in the grocery store and greeted me with true warmth and enthusiasm. It was the friendliest church I’ve ever known.
At too many other churches, though, my experiences discouraged me from visiting again. And if I feel unwelcome as a committed Christian, how must an unsaved newcomer feel?
Yet none of these problems is difficult to fix.
If you aren’t sure how visitors feel about your church, try stepping into their shoes and taking a look around. What you see may surprise you.
Then make a greater commitment to biblical love and hospitality—and you may see those visitors start coming back.
ANONYMOUS CHRISTIAN is a real person who actually had these experiences visiting churches.
Dig Deeper at LifeWay.com
Thom S. Rainer
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Coming Back to the Church, Part 2
Last week, we talked about how to come back to the Church if you have been away. But there is another situation that can be just as painful for faithful Catholics: when our loved ones have fallen away from the Church.
Perhaps you have a parent or sibling who abandoned their faith after a personal tragedy, or maybe you have a child who stopped going to church after making their Confirmation.
Whatever the reason or circumstance, it is a source of sorrow when we are not in communion with our loved ones in the Eucharist and the Body of Christ.
Sometimes, we blame ourselves when those close to us are away from the Church, especially if they are our children. However, the decision ultimately belongs to them.
Your role is to witness to a beautiful faith in the best way you can. They can choose to accept or reject the faith. Even if they reject it, you can keep witnessing to the truth of the Good News in your life.
By God’s grace, that will eventually convert their hearts.
Here are some ways you can encourage your loved ones to come back to the Church:
1. Pray for them
Praying for your loved ones is the single most important thing you can do to help them come back to the Church. You can take hope in the example of St.
Monica—she prayed for the conversion of her son, Augustine, for years, and he went on to become a saint and doctor of the Church. You can pray novenas for your loved ones, make personal sacrifices, fast, or offer up other prayers.
The important thing is that you pray consistently and with the confidence that God will hear your prayers and answer them according to his will.
2. Invite them to Mass
Some people stay away from the Church for the simple reason that no one has invited them back. They might feel that no one has noticed that they left, or if they have noticed, that they don’t care.
The next time you are on your way to Mass, invite your loved one. Let your invitation be free of any judgment or obligation. If they say no, offer a standing invitation that you renew from time to time.
If you have been trying to convince your loved one to come back to the Church for a long time, they might be so accustomed to your voice that they are no longer listening. Bring some new voices into the equation.
Offer your loved one a spiritual book that has inspired you, an article you think will speak to them, or a movie or video related to the faith.
Take care to use media that you are familiar with—you will want to share things that are of high quality and that will speak specifically to your loved one.
4. Listen to them
Listening to the concerns, complaints, and even anger of a person away from the Church can be challenging. But it is essential to understanding where they are coming from and how you can help them come back to the faith.
When you start out, don’t try to change your loved one’s mind right away. Simply let them get their thoughts off their chest, and assure them that they have a listening ear in you. This will help you to work with your loved one with love and compassion.
Your goal, after all, is to invite them lovingly back to the Body of Christ, not to win an argument.
5. Develop your own spiritual life
When you are encouraging another person in their faith, it is important that you don’t neglect your own faith. You should always be nurturing your faith, no matter where you are in life.
But this is especially important when you are trying to be an example to your loved one, and when you are depending heavily on prayer to convert their heart.
Try reading Scripture and apologetics books to help you strengthen both your conviction and knowledge.
6. Be ready to answer their questions and walk with them on the journey
When you commit to helping someone decide to come back to the faith, you should be committing to the whole process. If you are concerned about the state of their soul, then you should be ready to be a spiritual companion.
This means reminding them to go to church, helping them learn how to return to the sacraments, answering any questions they have, and supporting them through all moments of struggle and doubt. In addition, you should continue to pray for them.
Spiritual companionship for your loved ones might sound a big task, and it is—but the rewards are bigger than you can imagine. It is your loved one’s soul that is at stake.Bringing your loved ones back to the Church is a process that is a blessing to everyone involved. Even if you are not successful, and even if you feel you are not getting through to them, persevere in prayer and trust that God’s plan will be fulfilled. In this month of July especially, join Pope Francis in praying for those distant from the Christian faith.