I am passionate about being a community where every person matters. Don’t you want to be part of a church where people love coming, they have friends, they belong, they are cared for, they know they will be missed? The larger the community the more difficult this can be. I guess the advantage is there is more variety of people to connect with. Yet, it can be challenging to find real connection in a crowd, who already have enough friends.
I’m passionate because of what is at stake. In my experience connection can be the thin thread which means people stick at faith. As a youth pastor I noticed if young people had friends in youth group it helped them value faith and church into their adult years. Where friendships were a struggle, faith and church were not valued. Can you see what is at stake? The strength of relationships to a church community influences someone’s eternal destiny. Granted, I do not wish to underplay each person’s responsibility towards their own destiny or even building friendships. But some churches or youth groups can make it super hard to belong and to discover Jesus.
Let us play our part in building a welcoming, caring community, where every person matters. This is not theoretical. My estimation is currently 1 in 6 people in our congregation lack a sense of strong connection. You, the reader, might be one of them. We need more than good sermons, worship, kids’ programs. We need friends, sisters, brothers. And we need more than one or two. Take initiative to connect. Welcome someone new to you, serve in a ministry team, invite people to lunch or coffee, join a growth group. There are options. It takes effort to open space in our hearts, homes, schedules to build relationships with people new to us. But, remember what is at stake.