Purpose. Consistency. Commitment. Encouragement. Accountability. These are the elements I had in place when I started my weight loss journey. For me, those words can be defined as:
Purpose – I decided that a healthy me was a better me for myself and for my family.
Consistency – I made a habit of going to the gym.
Commitment – I went even when I did not feel like it.
Encouragement – I was told “good job” or “don’t eat that.” Both were needed.
Accountability – I surrounded myself with people who made sure I was doing what I needed to do to achieve my goal.
Then came COVID-19 that brought virtual learning for our children, navigating ministry in uncharted waters, and the temptation to eat everything in sight. It has now been over a year since I have been to the gym. Needless to say, the weight loss and health gain have now turned to weight gain and health loss.
My wife and I have tried walking on our own. Our local fitness instructor even provides an online class for us. However, these things just have not worked for me. It is hard to be consistent without accountability and encouragement.
While I contemplate getting back to the gym, I wonder how many people are contemplating the same about going back to corporate worship. Those elements that need to be in place to be physically healthy are the same that need to be in place to be spiritually healthy.
The answer to what is holding me back from the gym and holding others back from gathering together on Sunday mornings is simple … and difficult – at the same time. It is Day One. Day One is the most difficult. Day One has to start with making my mind up that this what I am going to do and taking the first step.
Day One leads to Day Two, and Day Two to Day Three, and so on. I go from being anxious about walking into the gym, to anticipating what awaits me. I actually become disappointed on the days I have to miss. I look forward to going back each time because I have made a habit of being there, and I see the benefits of going on a regular basis.
Our actions – and our inactions – form our habits. Skipping a workout, whether it be online or in person, one day leads to skipping it again the next day. Before I know it, I’ve skipped a whole week, then a whole month. Eventually, I’m not exercising at all, and my healthy habits are quickly replaced with unhealthy habits that require a lot less time and effort. Physically, I suffer the consequences.
It's the same with church.
Church services that were strictly online during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic started with a high number of viewers. As weeks went on, the number of viewers went down. People began to disengage and replace that time with other things. Many had good intentions of going back to watch the service, but other things kept coming up. And before they even realized it, they had started a new unhealthy habit of skipping church that was now hard to break. Spiritually, they are suffering the consequences.
If you find yourself in the habit of not being a part of gathered worship, be reminded that a spiritual healthy you is a better you for you and your family. So be intentional and consistent about gathering with other believers even when you do not feel like it. We need the encouragement of each other while we hold each other accountable. Trying to do it on your own and through a screen is not the same as being with others. It starts with Day One; it starts with taking that first step. Don’t wait until Sunday to decide whether or not you’re going to church. Make the commitment now that you will be there.