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It has been over a month since the Desert Hills family has gathered together in corporate, physical worship. This has afforded our team at Desert Hills the opportunity to grow in digital media spaces and to stretch ourselves in creative ways to help keep people connected. It has also afforded a way for our congregation to continue to engage and stay connected by tuning in online, attending drive-up services, watching Hills Kids content with children, being a part of student ministry Bible studies and activities, and tuning in to our Midweek Moments programming. This is all well and good, but I want to remind you that while the church is not a building but a people. We must never minimize the public gathering opportunities for a church family. I am apprehensive that when things become safe and normal for people to publicly gather, some will choose not to out of convenience or even neglect. I do understand that people tune in online to our services while still working from home, or because of sickness, or other legitimate factors; but online community is never a full replacement for physical, corporate community. The early church, even with persecution present, always found a way to meet together each week corporately.

In the Book of Acts as the Church was coming in its early stages we see:

Act 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Verse 42 speaks of “fellowship” which is based on the Greek word, “koinonia” which means “close participation” and “intimate communion." It would be difficult to have close participation and intimate communion perpetually solely in an online forum. Verse 46 speaks of the early church meeting “with one accord," meaning “unanimously," and “from house to house," meaning “as a family." Again, meeting unanimously as a family would be difficult to conceive without gathering physically.

We want to encourage you to remember the importance of the assembling together as a Church. After all, that is literally what a church is: “a called out assembly” of believers. We look forward to the day we can all gather together physically and corporately again. Until then, we will continue to try to provide ways for you to connect and engage with your Desert Hills family.

Five Important Reasons for Physical Participation in a Church:

1. Physical participation provides accountability – Online attendance is ambiguous and is difficult maintain accountability.
2. Physical participation allows for opportunities to physically serve in ministries and to use your spiritual gifts.
3. Physical participation will encourage the attendee in a way an online presence will not - There is nothing like a personal greeting; worshipping live; or hearing a message firsthand.
4. Physical participation will encourage others – When other people see and recognize you, you have an opportunity to minister to them through a positive influence, greeting and fellowship. People are often encouraged by the faithfulness of others and our own faithfulness. I personally am!
5. Physical participation is God’s plan - The Book of Hebrews tells us: Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. God’s desire is for His people to assemble together more as the day of Christ is approaching. Seems like we are living in those days!

We look forward to the day we can gather ourselves together! Until then, I want to encourage you to participate in our new schedule for our Drive-Up Service @ 9:30 am; or to visit us online at deserthills.church or FaceBook Live @9:30 and 10:30 am on Sunday.