Christian pollster, George Barna, reports that one-third of regular church attenders stopped going to church last year. It’s not that they stopped going in person because of the pandemic, but they are still attending digitally. They just stopped going! I understand that part of going to church is interacting with friends, and that may not be possible now. But church is also “remembering the Sabbath to keep it holy,” worshipping God, receiving instruction and encouragement from His Word, and corporate prayer.
Couldn’t we all use a large dose of that—especially now? According to research from the Institute for Family Studies, 34 per cent of married men and women report the pandemic has increased stress in their marriage. This is especially true if finances have become a hardship. This is not the time to pull out the remaining marriage supports! This is the time for more praying for each other, more fellowship, more reminders of what God asks of us in our marriage—especially when the road is rough.
Are you continuing to attend church regularly? Is there a small group you can plug into? The marriage group at our church continues to meet weekly via Zoom. We have gotten creative and had backyard potlucks and movie nights in the driveway. Sometimes we take a hike together. I think the fellowship is sweeter than ever because we know we’re desperate for it. We fight to get it!
The advantages of meeting together in a group are more valuable than ever:
- Regular, positive input for our marriage
- The verification that everyone has struggles. We are not alone.
- A chance to observe how other couples handle difficulties.
- Someone to encourage us in our marriage.
- Someone to throw us a lifeline when we need one.
We need God and each other more than ever now. Commit to attending church and a small group weekly. If you don’t have a small group, this may be your opportunity to start one.
The odds are that those who would benefit most from this exhortation aren’t reading it. So, let me make a request: If you know someone who has “dropped out”—someone who needs the fellowship of a caring church and small group, check in with them and invite them back into fellowship.