By Lisa Garon
In February 2020, my family was actively involved in various ministries at our large, multi-campus church.
Aside from being on staff in an administrative role, my husband and I led a marriage workshop and facilitated our respective Bible study groups.
Our teenage son attended the high school youth group, served in Sunday school twice a month, and helped with yard maintenance.
Our family traveled on missions teams.
We, like thousands of others, were heavily vested in church life.
Then, we watched the world slowly shut down, from China to Italy to the west coast to our small suburban midwest neighborhood.
We were ripped apart from the communities we worked so hard to build within our church walls.
We no longer could greet each other with a hug on Sunday mornings. We mourned the loss of weekly group gatherings. We feared the long-term repercussions our children would face living through social separation.
Death loomed over our world, and fear globally gripped all of us.
Tensions continued to build about mask mandates, racial injustice, and political mantras.
Our communities tore dramatically into millions of tiny pieces.
In the haze and survival of this global trauma, we got cozy streaming our church service online in our jammies.
The quality time with our family we so desperately longed for, well, we got it, and we grew accustomed to actually liking the people who lived in our home.
As time went on, we wrestled with wanting the world to reopen because we had all grown quite accustomed to our slower, simpler pace of life.
Over a year later, our country is tiptoeing back into any sense of normalcy.
Students are returning to in-person classes; sporting events are opening to the public. Musicians are scheduling multi-city concert tours, and Broadway is producing plays again.
So why are the church buildings staying empty? At some point, we will all need to find a safe way to re-engage in church life.
Here are five reentry steps from Acts 2:41-47 that have helped my family reconnect with our local church.Here are five reentry steps from Acts 2:41-47 that have helped my family reconnect with our local church.
Step 1: Go to church.
“Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.” Acts 2:44
Some days it would be easier to lay on the couch and stream my choice of service. But the hard thing to do is put on pants and engage with the body of believers God has placed me in.
You might be thinking to yourself, You don’t know about how poorly my church handled this year. They are doing so many things wrong.
You might be right. You are probably right because even church leadership are imperfect people making imperfect decisions.
What matters is, if you aren’t there, you can’t reflect Jesus in the church.
If you believe it’s not the right fit anymore, I encourage you to go to the church down the street.
Are no churches like the church you want? Maybe it’s time to start your own with a few friends. I know for me, not going to church at all doesn’t cut it.If you aren't at church, you can't reflect Jesus in the church.
Step 2: Attend a church event.
“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex…” Acts 2:46a
Likely, your church staff has been dreaming of the day when they can have you and your whole family come back for fun events that were postponed for so long. Speaking from my own experience as a church leader, watching the ministry opportunities disappear as things shut down was heartbreaking.
Our church leaders want to bless us with events and community. All we need to do is show up.
What’s the next event your church is having? Is it a fall kid’s program? Volunteer. Is it a ladies’ night out? Go. Are they having a special night of teaching? Attend.
By jumping into these one-off events, we can start to reengage as the body of Christ doing church life together.
Step 3: Join a Bible study group at church.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” Acts 2:42
It’s up to us to receive the community that God gave to us.
Iron sharpens iron, and we are to edify, encourage, and uplift each other—what better way to do this than participating in a group study together.
Attending a smaller gathering at church on a weekday is a safer option for people who aren’t quite ready to attend on Sunday mornings.
Making connections in a small group setting will help you re-establish your connection with the body of Christ without compromising your health and safety.Iron sharpens iron, and we are to edify, encourage, and uplift each other.
Step 4: Contribute to your church.
“They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.” Acts 2:45
We have a responsibility to the church. Not to the building, and maybe not even to the leaders, but to the people of the church.
For too long, we all became consumers of our church’s live stream feeds. We were dependent on them showing up to serve us at home.
Now it’s our turn to show up and share the load.
Not sure where to start? Go to someone on staff and ask them what needs there are. I’m sure you won’t have enough paper to write all the opportunities down.
Step 5: Fellowship with other church members.
“…broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and a humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people.” Acts 2:46b-47a
Fellowship might be the most necessary aspect of our re-entry into church life. We have missed potlucks and shared meals and the conversations that mean we are doing life with each other.
Make a meal. Break bread. Grab coffee with another person.
Community happens more easily around food or another shared act, like going for a walk or doing a home project together.Fellowship might be the most necessary aspect of our re-entry in church life after the pandemic.
Conclusion: Let’s not lose what we learned.
“So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:41 & 47b
This year, the church gained an understanding of what it really means to love our neighbors.
We found ways to smile with our eyes at people in the grocery store. We checked in on our high-risk neighbors and loved ones to run errands for them.
We rose to massive food collections, providing for the hundreds of thousands economically impacted by the sudden and unexpected loss of income.
Churches across the nation finally upgraded their tech to join the online world.
Church, we became missional. Let’s hold tightly to this as we return to church life.
It is easy to stay in our comfort, refusing to leave our cocoons of hibernation and pancake breakfasts on Sunday mornings. Let’s not make that mistake!
It’s time for His people to rise in unity once again, to bring proper respect to our God and glory His name.
See you at church on Sunday.
Lisa Garon is a writer and speaker at Head n Heart Space. With her varied background, including management and ministry, she brings a fresh call to the Christian life. She and her husband Bob have been married 18 years and have a teenage son. They love to explore the Pacific Northwest and dream of adventure. Together, Bob and Lisa create content about intentional Christian living. Connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.