Local church leaders in Tyler are calling people to find community in their houses of worship, especially after the isolation they have been through during the pandemic.
In response to the pandemic-related disconnect, local churches came together to create the Gather Again Campaign.
The Gather Again Campaign encourages people to put aside virtual church services and come back to worship in person where they can see others and once again find a community within their church.
“Life just isn’t as good in isolation,” said Chris Legg, lead pastor at South Spring Baptist Church. “A lot of people have been attending ‘mattress first’ during COVID, and while watching church in your PJs is nice, it’s just not as good. We need the input of families in ours, we need to worship and pray together, we need to multiply our service power.”
Many churches have taken up virtual worship services to keep people safe during the pandemic, but these virtual options have also led people to get used to attending online instead of returning in person.
Chris Legg, the lead pastor at South Spring Baptist Church, said he realized that one of the biggest takeaways of a church is that it allows families, friends and community members to spend time together.
From this realization, the Gather Again Campaign grew, he said. While the campaign does encourage people to return to church in person, the main focus is to remind them that getting involved and connecting with others is an important aspect of life.
Legg is also a therapist and the owner of Alethia Counseling in Tyler and said that through this profession he has seen an increase in depression and isolation in the past year. He said that this is partly due to everything that has happened during the pandemic.
“That’s why we call it gather again,” Legg said. “It’s not just get back to church, it’s gather again to be back with friends and family.”
The church is a place that invites people to join together to sing, pray, worship and all kinds of things, he said. While you can do all these things alone, the impact of doing it with others is powerful.
“We were worshiping at home, and we kept in the habit of worshiping, and then it got really lonely,” Chantel Longino, a member of a Tyler church, said. “We realized we were missing a key component to worship and that was being with our church family.”
The Gather Again Campaign is geared toward combating isolation by helping people find a community in a local Tyler church.
Legg said he often finds himself thinking about when Jesus sent out his disciples in twos and told them not to take extra money, sandals or anything else. He added the lesson he sees in this is that people are not meant to live out ministry or life alone.
People were all created to live in a community, some being more intimate like marriages and close friendships, and others more casual like acquaintances, he said. As people, there is a need for close and more distant relationships along with everything in between to feel connected.
Aside from just relationships, church also gives people an outlet for thoughts and feelings and a place to serve others.
“We need opportunities to serve other people, and one of the main things that church gives us is the chance to invest in one another,” Legg said.
Some of the most fulfilling moments in Legg’s life are when he gets to teach people, serve others, visit the sick, be there during a tough time, be a part of a wedding and other monumental moments in people’s lives.
The Gather Again Campaign began early in July, and Legg is looking forward to seeing even more churches take the campaign and run with it. This is something for every church in the Tyler area.
“It’s all about getting to worship the Lord together and build a community,” Legg said.
Hebrews 10:24-25, which reads, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near,” is the verse that motivates the leaders of the campaign.
The Gather Again Campaign can be found on billboards in Tyler, social media and radio stations.
More information about the campaign, churches in the Tyler area and ways to contact churches can be found at their website, gatheragain.church.