In his book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Calhoun writes, “Christian community exists when believers connect with each other in authentic and loving ways that encourage growth in Christ. They engage in transparent relationships that cultivate, celebrate and make evident Christ’s love for all the world.” 1
As I reflect on my life as a Christian, I recall that the greatest moments of sorrow and triumph were shared with friends who shared an indescribable love for each other. Over the years, as I have had to make significant decisions or fight against an addiction that was destroying my life, it was those intimate friends that I was connected to who shared in these experiences. A fresh delineation of love was birthed and felt as a result of being able to share experiences with these friends.
As I continue to engage people from various backgrounds, it has become evident that our world desperately desires to find authentic community. There are over 6.7 billion people in our world today. In a world filled with so many people from different tongues, tribes, and nations, mathematically it is more than probable that every individual in the world would be able to share their life in community with at least one person. And yet, many Christians and church-goers have confessed to me that though they attend church every Sunday, they still feel lonely.
This article is not designed to critique the church or to bring about solutions, but to bring awareness to the fact that, though those who are more well-known in our churches may not be experiencing a sense of loneliness, there may be a subgroup of people who sneak in and out of our churches and are untouched by the church. Leaders, are we aware of this? Is there anything we can do to better engage the introverts in our churches? Is there a way we can make sure everyone has been touched and is connected to at least one person in a way that promotes transparency and growth as Calhoun suggests above?
In conclusion, when I reflect on the darkest periods in my life–and even the most rewarding moments–I remember having at least one friend with me to help me navigate the various seasons of life. I can’t imagine where I would be if I didn’t have someone present while experiencing these significant periods in my life. For this reason, I wonder what a small section of our church-goers are experiencing as a result of going through the highs and lows of life all by themselves. Is there anything we can do?