Embarrassed to Return
A church member told me a fascinating story this week. While out shopping he ran into a friend he had not seen in church for quite some time. So thinking he was going somewhere else to worship, he told him he missed him and wondered where his new church home was. Then it came out.
He went on a trip for several weeks. After getting home, he used Sundays to catch up on things he was behind on and got out of the habit of going to church. He was not angry or upset, but got into a new habit, a habit of not attending. And now he was embarrassed to come back to church.
My friend assured him that there was nothing to be embarrassed about and he was warmly missed and wanted. But the thought struck me: embarrassed to return. What makes that happen? Is it guilt, awkwardness, maybe a lack of deep relationships that sustained him? Are there others? Are there other people out there whose lives are overwhelmed with deadlines and stressors, who have gotten out of the habit of worship (or prayer, or Bible study or fellowship) and are now embarrassed to return? How can we in the church send the unmistakable signal that you are not just welcome, but wanted...whenever you come back?