From Couch to Pew: A Church Re-Entry Plan

Rachel Lohman

by Rachel Lohman


“We’re in this together.”

I heard this message constantly during the pandemic. From commercials to marketing emails to storefront signs, we were told the best way forward was together. Yet as we were fed this message time and time again, we digested it alone.

Jesus believed his people were best together, too, but not just in holding a unified mentality. Jesus believed his people were best together physically. In Jesus’ teachings, we see his tender care for his Bride—the Body of Christ—gathered together. God made us as physical beings who need to be ministered to physically.

In one of the most pronounced shifts of gathered worship in the history of the church—and out of the spirit of honoring the health of our brothers and sisters—the church exchanged corporate worship gatherings for online services during the pandemic. Small groups that once cozied in the relational warmth of a leader’s home resorted to group text message threads. Crisis counseling calls found their new home on Zoom, and meals taken to the sick no longer were accompanied with a prayerful visit, but via food delivery apps.

Technology is not a bad thing. Technological advancements have afforded the church many privileges – like the ability to even conduct online worship gatherings and stay connected to loved ones across the world. But what technology has also afforded us is the dangerous convenience of doing church alone. Screens can become a crutch to push aside grief and provide a false sense of connection.

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In a post-pandemic world, the temptation is to continue in our pandemic survival mode ways. But as followers of Jesus, we must not forget our hardwiring for communion. We were made to physically greet one another (Romans 16:16), taste (1 Corinthians 11:26), sing (Ephesians 5:19) and serve (Matthew 25:40-45): things we can’t do solo from the couch.

After nearly three years of being starved of relational connection, our need for it is acute. Here are three reasons why we need to do church together more than ever before.

We need the church for care.

Many of us carry unprocessed grief from the losses and trauma incurred during the pandemic. We experienced a jolting loss of life as we knew it: relationships changed, loved ones passed, and for many of us, a sense of security, stability, and faith was shaken. Through worship and communion with others, the church is the place we can exhale the weight of these losses with honesty. The church is where we can turn for prayer and receive spiritual care for our very real wounds and loneliness. The church longs to care for you, but it will struggle to know the needs of sheep wandering in distant pasture. The church longs for you to return home.

We need the church for commitment.

When we worship together in person with our brothers and sisters, we are reminded of both our connection and commitment to a larger story. As the Body of Christ, we each play a significant part in ushering in the Kingdom of God, and this is a high call requiring sacrificial commitment. In-person, embodied worship not only re-connects us to one another and to God, but fills our spiritual tanks with the fuel to be sent into our local mission contexts to live out Jesus’ charge to His church (Matt. 28:19-20). When people are missing from the Body of Christ, the absence feels like a missing limb. No matter how long your absence, the Church needs and misses you.

We need the church for anchoring.

If the last few years have shown us one thing, it’s that everything in our day-to-day lives is subject to being shaken. Nothing is certain, promised, or guaranteed, apart from your relationship with Jesus and the promises of God. The pandemic, protests, injustices and political unrests we’ve experienced in recent years have been disorienting. We need the church to reorient our tired souls to Jesus, the only steadfast anchor in the storm.

God’s best for us as human beings is to not be alone (Genesis 2:18). We, the Church, truly are better together. If you feel you’ve been away from the church for so long that you’re not sure where to start again, start with a small step. Attend corporate worship in person. Sign up for a Bible study. Introduce yourself to someone new in the lobby. You don’t just need the Church – the Church needs you, too.



@Rachel Lohman's heart beats to help hurting women find hope again. She is a pastor, mom of littles, and founder of @HopeAgainCollective, a handmade earring line that shares the stories of miscarriage and stillbirth moms. She and her husband currently lead The Bridge, a bilingual church outside of Los Angeles. Her first book Miscarried Hope: Journeying with Jesus through Pregnancy and Infant Loss releases August 2023.