West Franklin Family,

Tomorrow (April 11th), COVID-19 protocols will be removed from our campus. We are going way back in time to pre-COVID days. No masks required for volunteers or staff. No social distancing. Full capacity in the sanctuary. Enter and Exit through whatever doors you jolly well please. Hug. Shake a hand. Smile (because we can see it!). Grab a breath mint (because you won’t have your mask to “mask” the coffee infused hot air emanating from your mouth). On second thought, grab several breath mints. We are going back to the good ole days. The only things staying the same (for now) are: NextGen registration (due to volunteer numbers); no passing of plates (heavy touch point); and no coffee (again, due to heavy touch/germ points). Please don’t gripe about the no coffee. For one, you have survived just fine for a whole year. Bring your own. And two, since we are now able to officially touch – I might firmly touch you on your nose with my Germ-X greased knuckles. If you do complain, you will automatically be placed on the volunteer rotation to make and serve the coffee when it does reappear (Wow. That felt good to type.).

For many, this is welcome news. For others, it is a bit too soon and/or a bit frightening. We are doing this now due to the fact that all high-risk and vulnerable adults have had access to be fully vaccinated. You may not be fully vaccinated yet. You may be a bit nervous about loose restrictions. Hear me: That. Is. Fine. Seriously. It is. If you need to, stay home until you authentically feel safe. If you need to, wear a mask to one of our services. I know for a fact you will not be the only one wearing a mask. For those of you who have a real and genuine concern – I plead with you to do what you feel safe doing, when you are ready to do so.

Now. . . The rest of this letter is for those of you NOT staying home out of a genuine health concern. What I need to get off my chest is for those of you who have gotten into and enjoy the routine of doing on-line church. This is for those of you who aren’t nervous about getting the virus. This is for those of you who get excited about protocols being rolled back. This is for those of you who frequent a restaurant and a grocery store – but declare you “aren’t ready to come back to church yet.” This is for those who genuinely want to grow in the Lord, but think it can happen without being “in person.” This is for those who are thinking, “I’ll start attending in person soon.” This is for those who really like doing church “on demand.”

If this is you, hear me: COME BACK TO CHURCH NOW.

I mean it. Don’t let another Sunday go by where you fall deeper into the comfortable pattern of doing church in your PJ’s. The longer you stay away, the easier it will be to, well, stay away.

I am NOT saying this to increase our numbers. Our numbers have actually INCREASED with on-line church. I am not saying this to get more tithes and offerings. We still aren’t passing plates and your giving has remained steady and generous on-line. I am not saying this so we will have more energy in our worship services. Last Sunday (Easter) demonstrated we can still have tons of energy, even at half capacity.

I plead with you to come back to church NOW for one main reason: THE VITALITY OF YOUR SOUL. We were meant to be together. We were meant to do life together. We were meant to worship God together. We were meant to hear the Word and respond together. All of us – ALL. OF. US. – are prone to wander and swerve. It’s why we need to be together. Church is not something you “do.” Church is something you ARE. Jesus died and rose again, for the church. Jesus is coming back, for His Bride. Jesus promises to dwell with His people. There are approximately 65 “one another’s” in the New Testament. They are commands to do things for “one another.” You cannot do them, nor can you receive them, if you aren’t with “one another.” In other words, it is impossible to obey Scripture and enjoy the benefits of Scripture by yourself. YOUR SOUL NEEDS THE LOCAL CHURCH.

You may have found another church on-line during the pandemic. You may have discovered West Franklin isn’t for you. Fine. But wherever the living Jesus is calling you to – BE THERE, with other brothers and sisters – PLEASE.

Let me say it one more time to make sure the message gets across: COME BACK TO CHURCH NOW. It’s not because the church needs you. No. You and I need the church. Actually, that’s not quite right. God doesn’t need you to “go to church for Him.” But the church does, in fact, need you. And, yes, you need the church. For those of you with genuine concerns as we still battle this pandemic, I will (hopefully) see you soon. For the rest of you, I will see you tomorrow at 9 or 10:30 am. My Bible will be open to Luke 24:13-24.

Don’t Forget Your Breath Mints,

Pastor Matt

BTW – Remember “Going Night” tomorrow night at 6 pm. Not only will we finally be able to eat together; we will be sharing all the opportunities we have to “GO” on mission this year!