Prioritizing the Life of the Church

Pastor Darren Kishimoto   -  

It’s interesting how this past year’s COVID pandemic has caused most of us to reassess our approach to in-person gatherings, attending church activities, and doing things in public. Like many of you, my family has gotten used to doing most things virtual or online because we’ve been forced to. Activities such as school, work, appointments, playdates, bible study, etc. have been on Zoom or other meeting platforms. As usual, change has not been easy. But we’ve struggled our way through it. I hope you and your family have been doing alright during this strange unprecedented time in history. Now it appears that we’re entering into a new stage (hopefully the tail-end of this pandemic) where most institutions and organizations are gradually transitioning back to a more traditional in-person or live environment. I think this is exciting but can also be challenging for us to know how to navigate the return back to various activities given what we’ve been through this past year.

As most of you know, at West Covina Christian Church we have been gathering together in-person since October. It has been such a blessing to worship the Lord, hear testimony, see some familiar faces and new ones (masked of course 😷), and receive God’s Word together. We’re so thankful for each person that attends/participates in worship service, whether in-person or online. We believe that God honors that commitment to worship, prayer, the Word, and fellowship in the Body of Christ. Here’s what in-person attendance has been like if you haven’t been able to join us recently:

  • Prior to Easter, our average in-person attendance was 40-50.
  • On Easter Sunday, we had over 100 people in attendance. Since then, attendance has averaged about 70.
  • Between in-person attendance and online viewership, overall participation appears to be fairly consistent with some spikes/drops here and there.

As a church, we will also be moving into a new phase or season. Beginning on Sunday, June 6 at 11am, we will return to indoor worship service in our newly refurbished sanctuary. We’re extremely excited to worship together in new but familiar surroundings which we’ve missed for over a year now. We will continue to livestream the worship service which will allow those who cannot attend in-person to participate online. We recognize that there are many reasons why one might not be able to come in-person but we cannot stress enough the importance of worship and fellowship. When we return, we will also continue to practice key health and safety precautions until such time a change is appropriate.

Thinking about the new phase and a return to a bit of normalcy in church life, Hebrews 10:23-25 comes to mind. It says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The author of Hebrews is exhorting the Jewish Christians here to hold onto the faith they have in Jesus. And they do this by continuing to assemble together with other believers and encourage one another to live out their faith in Christ. Apparently, because of fear of persecution or other interests, some in their group had “forsaken the assembly” and disregarded the corporate worship, fellowship, and accountability of the church. According to Hebrews, this puts them at risk of falling away from their faith. In other words, commitment and participation in the life of the church is critical to our faith in Christ. The two are inseparable.

Beloved, God has made the church to be His body here on earth. It is where the believer finds his or her place in devotion and service to God. As we look forward to what the Lord will do in the coming weeks and months, and as we navigate this new stage of the pandemic, let us hold to the hope and faith we profess in Jesus Christ and not give up meeting together and encouraging one another in-person and/or online.

God bless,

Pastor Darren