Back to Church?
When I was in my early 20s, the church I was involved in got on board with an initiative called 'Back to Church Sunday'. I can't remember if it was a Church of England initiative or a cross-denominational one. But the idea was simple: for those who have stopped coming to church, an invitation to come back! We produced nice publicity, wrote a piece in the local paper, and all did what we could to invite folk along. It went well: a number of people did come back, and some even kept coming back!
Little could I have imagined than 10 years later we would all be heading 'back to church' after 4 months of complete closure!
However, this all got me reflecting. For many people, there is no prior church experience to 'go back to'. They were brought up in non-religious homes, and if they have ever been in a church before, it has been for the occasional wedding or funeral. Church is completely alien, and even in a crisis, it wouldn't even cross their minds to go along. Why would they? The reality is that reopening our church building (as wonderful as that is) makes no difference at all to the vast majority of our local community.
This is not a new situation that Christians have faced. Immediately before returning to the Father, the risen Jesus stood on a Galilean hillside with a small collection of followers before him and said 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:19-20). The people Jesus instructed his disciples to go to also had no prior experience of Christianity. How could they? At that stage, it was entirely new! And that's why at the heart of Jesus' great commission is not the word 'come', but the word 'go'. Jesus calls disciples of every generation to 'go out' with the good news of Jesus. Not just to wait for people to 'come in'.
A church building is a wonderful provision. Meeting back again is a wonderful privilege. But Jesus' call on us has not changed: 'therefore, go'.
Who are you being called to go to with the good news of Jesus?