Churches must work to cultivate community. The signs are all around. Our world is lonely. People are crying out for community, relationships, and friends. In other words, people are longing for the things that churches are created to provide. Get busy. Here are a few steps you might take in your church to cultivate community:
Loneliness in the 21st century is a paradox. A paradox is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true. Loneliness today is a paradox because people are more connected than at any other point in history, yet they claim to feel more alone than ever before. In other words, people are less along than ever, but feel more isolated than ever.
The data is still emerging, but it seems that people have more surface level relationships than ever before, but they lack companionship and meaningful relationships. Of course, there is a subjective nature to the feelings of loneliness–there is a good chance that you aren’t as alone as you feel. However, in the moment, those feelings are real. Social media can exacerbate those feelings when you sit at home on a Friday night with a bag of Fritos and a bowl of nacho cheese and scroll through your social media that seems to be filled with people having fun while you drown your sorrows in grease and lactose.
Loneliness is such a problem that even medical experts have taken notice. One researcher compared loneliness to obesity and smoking: “Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.” The separation during COVID-19 has only worsened the problem.
The loneliness epidemic is a situation in which the church is uniquely called and created to minister. The church has always been called to be more than a gathering of disparate people, but a body of brothers and sisters who are committed to Christ and to one another.