Disconnection. Isolation. Social distance.
Unfortunately, this is what people who are a part of any church sometimes feel. If that's how you're feeling in your church, there are a few steps I would recommend to find connection and community in the congregation.
- Reach out. Maybe it sounds flippant, but one of the reasons you might not be feeling connected to others in your congregation may be your own unwillingness to reach out. At the very least, reach out to the pastor. He or she may not be able to develop a personal relationship with you, but he is likely well-networked within the church and may know people with whom you may have some basic life situation affinities.
- Join a small group. One of the best ways to grow close to people anywhere is to do something with them. While weekend services may not be designed for a lot of social interaction, most small groups are engineered with social connection in mind. By studying or playing or serving with some other people, you will soon make connections.
- Volunteer. You will get to know other people in your church if you find a way to serve your church in a regular, meaningful way. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you're waiting for someone to ask you to serve and they're not, why not make the step yourself? Volunteering will help you get to know other people who lead through serving in your church. Take the step and see what happens.
- Temper your expectations. It might be that you're looking for more fulfillment or interaction from the people you worship with than is realistic. Building relationships and connectedness takes time, and it takes time in contexts beyond what is possible at a weekend worship service. Before you dive into more disappointment, consider your expectations and ask yourself if maybe you're setting yourself up for social letdown because your expectations are too high.
- Invite someone to lunch. One of the most socially networked couples I know in my community attend my church. When they were new, they found it tough to meaningfully connect, even though they owned a small business and were well-known in our community. They started asking people to lunch after church. They were turned down MANY times, but eventually got some people to say "YES" and eventually navigated themselves into many meaningful friendships. The point is, they kept trying and eventually broke through.
These keys to connection in church life should be taken right away by anyone wanting to connect socially with other people in church. The important thing here is not to give up too soon. Before leaving and trying it again with the same strategies at another church, try these steps and give it at least 6 more months.
Labels: Christianity, Church life, discipleship, social dynamics, wisdom