I have spent my adult life gathering up the strays. The ones who live on the margins of the kingdom of God, who are looking (even if they don't realize it) for something to believe in and someone to belong to. I don't want to sound unappreciative of those who have never been lost or separated from the church; I envy them, rather. But I was a stray myself, and I am acutely aware of those who need someone to seek them out and invite them in to believe and belong. Nothing makes me happier than to do so, and I've seen a lot of people over the years respond to an invitation and begin to participate in the church. Not a few have professed their faith in Christ or renewed their relationship with the church.
And not a few have wandered off again. Family disruptions, other attractions and relationships, whatnot -- they get in the way, and the person who once came every Sunday and was getting serious about following Jesus and was growing in his or her ability to pray now does so very seldom. Some not at all. I stay in touch with many of them; others, I see only now and then. And I try not to nag at them. I hate being a scold. But oh, if you could know how deeply I want to see you in church, how much I miss you, how jealous I am of the things that now occupy your attention. And as much as I long to see you back here, where you belong, imagine what God feels when he sees us wandering about. As if we didn't belong to anybody.
You are wanted and you are loved. Come home.