As churches are regathering, many people are figuring out if they are ready to return to in-person church services.
Ready is defined as “being completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use.”
While many were ready and counting down the weeks this whole time, others aren’t ready due to vulnerabilities. People have experienced different states of emotional, mental, spiritual and physical readiness and have needed to prepare in various ways.
These past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be ready, prepared and vulnerable.
As with everyone else, being prepared for a pandemic was nowhere on my radar. However, I quickly discovered many significant ways in which I had been prepared for such a time as this.
The process of becoming a disciple of Jesus prepared me.
I struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for more than a decade, and when I became a believer, I realized I had to impose a self-quarantine. It just wasn’t safe for me to socialize or go out except to work and the grocery store.
Then, I had to deal with all the ways I could get into trouble by myself at home. That period lasted a long time, but eventually, after I had established healthy patterns, I started testing the waters to see if I could venture out a bit.
I had learned from Jesus years ago how to be healthy at home.
While I was learning how to be a disciple, I was simultaneously being prepared for service. When the time was right, God put me to work. I served on a church-planting team in North Africa and then, at a nonprofit residential addiction recovery center in Louisville.
Both of those assignments required a dependence on God’s provision in a multitude of ways. Comfort, safety, financial security, anything and everything considered “normal”—I had to release all of these and much more from my control.
I learned from Jesus years ago to depend solely on the sovereignty and provision of the Father to meet all my needs and to relinquish much of what I want.
But nothing has prepared me more than a personal relationship with Jesus and a commitment to the Word.
From day one of being a Christian, I had so much to learn and unlearn. As much as I loved going to church for worship services, I knew I wouldn’t be able to live out the calling of a follower of Jesus without developing an intimate relationship with Him and making a lifelong commitment to align my life with His teachings.
I have spent significantly more time with Jesus through friendship, prayer and reading the Bible than the amount of time I’ve spent in worship services and listening to sermons.
I learned from Jesus years ago how to maintain a vibrant faith and feed myself.
It’s good to gather for worship, the Bible teaches us that and I’m ready, too!
Southeast is where I first heard the Gospel. It’s where I learned to study the Bible and where I met Jesus. It’s where I was baptized and commissioned for cross-cultural ministry. For the past five years, it’s where I have worked and served in Women’s Ministry. It’s the church where I was prepared and made ready.
How about you?
Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
As we prepare to regather, I want to challenge you to ponder a few things:
>Have you allowed the church to prepare you, to equip you for works of service?
>Have you allowed the church to help you mature in your personal relationship with Jesus?
>In the past few months, have you identified areas where you are spiritually vulnerable?
>Are there ways that you’ve been using church as a crutch and were unprepared to maintain a strong faith when normal activities weren’t propping you up?
Jesus tells us, “‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’” (John 16:33).
As we regather, my prayer is that we will view the church as the place that consistently matures and prepares us to stand firm and make an impact during the present and future troubles of the world.
Groups are launching this fall, and I want to encourage everyone to find a community where you can mature and become equipped.
Southeast’s Women’s ministries at every campus will be studying John 14-17, which will coincide with the church’s sermon series, and we would love for you to join us in-person or online. Visit www.southeastchristian.org/women for more information and to register.
Tiana Miller is a Women’s Ministry associate at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus.