Did you know that …
- About 3.5 billion people are connected to the Internet.
- In December of 2016, Instagram reported over 600 million monthly active users and over 400 million daily active users.
- There are over 2 billion monthly active Facebook users.
Our world is connected more than we ever have been. We have access to get to know people, see into their world, and reconnect with people from our past…
All with the swipe of a screen.
Yet according to a survey of more than 2,000 Americans conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of Americans experience loneliness.
Even though we are more connected more than ever before, we are feeling more lonely, isolated, disconnected. We are having a hard time feeling known.
We have the power of connection at our fingertips, yet we don’t quite know how to connect. We become accustomed to the ease of Internet connection where we don’t have to be completely honest, where we can upload the highlight reel of life without actually having to step into the mess of anyone’s life.
I bet you can think of a long list of reasons to NOT look for connection at church. For example…
- Connecting means you can’t hide from people. They know if you don’t show up.
- Connection is intimidating. Maybe you feel like you don’t have it all together and others do.
- Connection requires curiosity. We don’t want people to see our mess, and we don’t want to see their’s.
- Connection means vulnerability. And it takes a lot of courage to be the real you in person.
All of those are valid reasons to remain disconnected. Or, just look for connection outside of the church.
But deep down, I think we all desire a real form of connection. We want someone to know and accept us as we are. Even though we have friends IRL (in real life) and friends online, why would someone look to the church for connection?
Here’s what I know to be true about finding connection through church versus finding connection with friends IRL or online…
1) You learn more about God when you connect with others at church.
Have you ever sat in a circle with other Christians and shared your life stories? Or have you ever sat across from someone over coffee and heard about what God had recently done in his or her life? I bet your own faith was strengthened. I bet you walked away encouraged or inspired. That’s because God designed us to spur each other on in our faith.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).
2) You learn more about yourself when you connect with others at church.
There have been so many times in life where I gained insight into who I was because I allowed someone to speak into my life. I have a mentor who, over the years, has seen things in me—both positive and negative—that I couldn’t see.
When you open yourself up to others, you allow light to shine in some dark places.
Sometimes we need encouragement, advice, wisdom, direction, or a place to confess. God knew that finding connection with other Christians is the avenue for those things.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).
3) You realize you are not alone when you connect with others at church.
I think the two most powerful words in the English language are, “Me, too.” I have a small group of 10 women. All of them are mothers, six of them have been divorced, three of them have felt the sting of adultery, and all of them breathed a sigh of relief as another voice in the circle said, “Me too.”
In week three of meeting together, one of the women confessed that she was having feelings of depression and loneliness. Then she said, “But that knowing I would see other women on Wednesday nights in small group has changed my outlook.” That’s because connection is powerful. It has the power to pull someone out of the darkness of isolation.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).
God never intended for us to do life alone. Relationships with other Christians reveal the power of the Holy Spirit in each of us, drawing us together and pulling us towards authentic community.
DECIDE TODAY TO FIND A PLACE TO CONNECT.
Maybe that means joining a small group. Or volunteering to serve at church alongside of other people. Or getting plugged into a men’s or women’s group or Bible study.
Here’s another, bonus step…
When you go to church, don’t hide in the back, stare at the church bulletin, then sneak out while the pastor prays his closing prayer (You thought we didn’t notice, didn’t you??)
When you show up, show up! Be fully present. Choose to be curious about the people around you.
One of the greatest catalysts that results in us growing in godliness and maintaining the course is whether or not we have authentic relationships with other people in our lives. We need other people to push us, pull us, grow with us, and experience God’s love with us.