Americans are some of the loneliest people in the world. We are a mobile society where many graduate from high school, move away from home for college, and then move again for a job. Most people will switch jobs 2-3 times. This contributes to our loneliness, and you couple this with our high divorce rate and that makes for some very lonely people.
Concert attendance has been slowly declining over the last 10 years because people no longer want to go and get lost in a crowd. In contrast, another trend over the past 10 years is that coffee houses are up. One person was quoted in The State Journal’s article on coffee houses, "I come here because I like an atmosphere of busyness, I don’t like to feel like I’m alone."
The popular show Friends takes place in a coffeehouse where friends in New York City just spend time together while trying to make it in life. The popular show in the 90s called Seinfeld was said to be about nothing, but was really about a group of friends hanging out and talking about meaningless stuff.
We live in a society that is extremely lonely and many have experienced this feeling firsthand. Charles Swindoll mentioned a Kansas newspaper ad which read, "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00." Swindoll said, "Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship"
Coffeehouses, being with friends and hanging out will satisfy a need in your life, but it’s not the totality of life experience that God wants for you.
God’s Plan for Community
God’s desire is for you to experience "community." In God’s design of us, He said it’s “not good to be alone.” God created the church as a community of people gathered around Jesus and who are called to be together on a mission. Real community is "hanging out with a spiritual purpose." We need to learn to come together for a spiritual purpose.
Larry Crabb makes the simple statement, "Community matters." That’s like saying oxygen matters. Community is essential in a healthy Church. As our lungs require air, so our souls require what only community provides.
You are designed by God (who himself is a group of three persons living in profound relationship with each other) to live in relationship. How can a person tell if he or she is experiencing true community? Answer this question: “How often during the week do I get together with people with a spiritual purpose in mind?”
In a local church, you can experience community any number of ways.
- Sunday morning worship: we gather together and edify one another.
- Become involved in a ministry team.
- Get involved in a small group.
- Pray together with others.
- Encourage spontaneous gatherings with a spiritual purpose.