A text away from Jesus?

Do you know someone who’s drifted from church?

Maybe your best friend or your niece or your grandson has gone months without joining other Christians to hear God’s Word and respond in gathered worship. Maybe your heart is heavy when you see those empty Sunday seats or sparsely populated pews. Maybe you know this isn’t about church attendance; it’s about real people with real eternities who are missing a real chance to hear the real gospel from a real church community.

Some of those people might seem so far away that they’ll never return. But, perhaps, there are a few who are only a text away from reconnecting to Jesus.

That’s what happened to me recently. As I paged and prayed through our updated church membership list, I saw names that took a notch out of my happiness. “I haven’t seen her in forever . . . He was so excited about Jesus the last time we talked . . . They used to be every-Sunday worshipers.”

Part of me—the über-organized, structure-loving part—wanted to wait until we had an official system to track drifting members of our church family and reach out with a trained team in a perfectly crafted fashion.

But another part of me didn’t want to wait another week to reconnect people to Jesus.

So, I texted them. Leveraging the power of voice texting, I was able to send out over a dozen messages in just ten minutes, each one personally worded and from the heart.

And God shocked me with the results as my phone buzzed back:

“Hi Pastor Mike, I haven’t been there in quite some time and know I need to. Thanks for reaching out.”

“Thanks for thinking of us. Struggling with my family . . .” (A few more texts led to a meeting for coffee and prayer.)

“Thank you for checking in. That was very nice of you.” (A dialogue ensued.)

“We have fallen off a bit . . . We have discussed getting back to it again . . . I’ll be out of town Sunday, but I’ll see you in two weeks.” (Double-digit texts happened in the following hour!)

I could go on. Nearly half of the people I texted responded within two hours. They were grateful, encouraged, and reminded of the importance of doing life together as a church family.

To be transparent, a few others did not reply. If my past experience is any indication, a number of them will not reply despite my gentle tone and deep desire to help them grow in their faith in Jesus.

But the overall experience was a vivid reminder that, while some people have strayed far from God, many are close enough to need only a text.

So, can I encourage you today to think of the members of your church family or your circle of friends who have gotten out of the habit of regularly worshiping together? Picture their faces right now and start to pray that their voices would join yours in next Sunday’s songs.

You might wish that there was a perfect system at your church for reaching out and reconnecting. But don’t wait until that day comes.

Just send a text. Or write a note. Or give a call.

The prophet Zechariah once wrote, “Who dares despise the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10). It’s so easy to minimize the big impact of small efforts. But God is famous for taking the small steps of his faithful people and bringing back big blessings.

One stone dropped a giant. One lunch fed five thousand. One cross forgave the world.

And one text might save a soul.

Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 as a pastor in Madison and now Appleton, Wisconsin. He also serves as a host and speaker for the Time of Grace television program and contributes to the written resources of Time of Grace Ministry. Pastor Mike is married to Kim and has two daughters.


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