I bet you have a mental list of all the reasons you don’t want to come back to church or feel like you can’t come back. I know you also have a mental list tucked a little deeper in your heart about the things you miss. Maybe you think about what you want to get back to. Maybe you miss where you used to be in your relationship with Jesus or maybe you miss how it used to feel during a worship service when you felt like you were so close to God.
I have no obligations for you. You are free. You are independent. You are welcome. You can go if you want or you can stay if you want. I’m not here to control you. I’m not here to tell you what you have to do. I’m here to save a seat for you if you’d like to join us.
Do something for me. Shift your perspective. Why is it when we’re backslid and we think about coming back we always make it about showing up to church? The church is the body, the people. What we need to walk back to is Jesus himself.
I know many who have left church have been wounded. Church hurt is real and I validate that. There are others who slipped away slowly. It happens. Life gets a hold of you and keeps you busy. It’s hard to get up and go to church once you’re out of the habit. Maybe there’s a reason you’re not in church anymore. Maybe that’s just how things unraveled. Or, perhaps, the church itself changed and you didn’t feel like you should be there anymore.
It started slow. And then one day you wake up and realize you’re different. You’re living differently. You make compromises. You did things you didn’t think you would. You made mistakes. You slipped up. Is this how you want to be? Sin loses its fun after a while. The world that once felt exciting and liberating leaves an emptiness. Your soul has known living waters that never end. Once you’ve known that, nothing else can satisfy for long. But it changes you to be farther and farther away from the person you used to see in the mirror.
I know. I’ve been there.
And I remember the thoughts that went through my head. The church folk will judge me if I show up. They know I’m _____. They know I’ve ______. I’m not like them. It feels stifling having to act perfect. So and so…. and then you remember how it made you feel when they said what they did. You remember how it made you feel when they looked at you like that or excluded you like that. You remember the hurt, and that overrides your desire to go to church. You wonder what people think. You worry they’ll say something. You get your guard up. You prepare yourself to go on the defense. Then you don’t want to go anymore. You get upset when you think about going to church.
But why do you let that stop you from seeking God?
If you’re feeling the tug to come back to God, don’t let people stop you. Read your bible. Try 10 days of daily bible reading. Pray. Try to get into a prayer routine. These things are just between you and God. Other people don’t need to be involved. You’ll see things start to change. Start making changes you know you need to make. Repent, and be cleansed. Start fresh. Start again. You can get back to where you were.
When you’re ready, we do need church. I know you have a lot of reasons you don’t want to go to church. Come home anyway. I know you have hurt. Come home anyway. I know you think sin has tainted your life. Come home anyway. Come be renewed. Come be rejuvenated. Come hear a biblical message. Come sing with the worship team. Come sit with a friend. Come fellowship. Find people you connect with. Find people that help you grow.
If you feel like you can’t go back to where you used to go, then go to a new church! It’s okay. It really is. I would rather you go to a new church than you not go at all. If you need to set boundaries, that’s okay. Do what you need to do to get where you need to be.
But don’t stay where things are empty. Don’t stay where you feel far away from God. Don’t stay in circumstances that allow sin to decay. You’ve been feeling the tug for a while now. God is trying to talk to you. He still loves you, and he wants you. Come home. You belong on the path with Jesus. You never really belonged out there with the world. You were always a little different. There are pieces of you that have roots here.
Come home, prodigal. Come back to God. Come back to church. Come back to where your spiritual growth is nurtured. It’s time. Get back on the right path.