“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).
The COVID-19 pandemic added to a building cultural sense that regular church attendance is optional. When church services went online and mid-week Bible studies were canceled altogether, many people seemed to fill their time with other activities, and they have not completely returned. Connections between church leadership and congregations were broken; no one could accurately trace who attended online services and so absences that normally might inspire a follow-up call or email were generally unknown. The resulting feeling of the congregants was that no one noticed, therefore no one cared whether they were there or not. The pandemic revealed a weakness in church structure: too much accountability and care is left to the leadership when the biblical example expects congregants to care for one another. In-person fellowship and worship were critical to the first-century church when persecution ran rampant; the same is true when pandemics and politics interfere. This is grace wearing running shoes: church members taking it upon themselves to form relationships with each other and stay connected so that no one goes unnoticed.
Grace means knowing your church family and reaching out when someone goes missing. A text, an email, or a phone call can do much to encourage the spirits of someone who doesn’t feel seen or heard in the chaos that Sunday mornings can be. Grace notices. Grace loves. Grace communicates.