We don't talk to our geographical neighbors and are barely acquainted with our fellow believers. Sure, a few Christians are so welcoming that they could use revolving doors on their houses. But, in general, I think we are neglecting community. And, it is hurting us.
Researchers say that without connections, we decrease our life span. They point to the increased use of impersonal technology for interaction, longer job commutes and the tendency to move away from hometowns as causes for our social isolation. As I talk to people in my church, I sense that Christians are not immune to these circumstances.
On his website, Robert Putnam, who wrote Bowling Alone, documents social trends from the last 25 years. His research shows that there has been a 58% drop in attending club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners and a 35% drop in having friends over.
It seems to me that the church reflects the culture in this regard. If so, it is disturbing that there is a decline in participation where the church should excel. The Bible values attending worship services and church meetings (Hebrews 10:25), teaching our family to love God as we go about our daily routines (Deuteronomy 6:7) and meeting the fellowship and relationship needs of other Christians (III John 5, 6). Instead, we do what is natural for us by neglecting to spend time together for spiritual benefit.
Motivated by reports of what loneliness does to our physical and mental health and, perhaps, recognizing something God has written on the heart, groups of secular women are seeking to reestablish these lost connections. An April 2015 Real Simple article, "Let's Get Together and Feel all Right," tells of one woman who opens her home every Friday for a shared meal. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, the concept went viral around the world and she started FridayNightMeatballs.com with the slogan, "Building Community, one dinner at a time."
As Christian women, we have more resources and motivation for reconnection than those who start a non-sectarian sorority or supper club. The need for fellowship, hospitality and sharing one another's burdens comes from God. So, He gives believers the power to do what He calls us to do. In addition, the Holy Spirit prompts us to celebrate our common bond with those who are in Christ.
In my own church, the leaders are thinking about how they can help us fight our natural tendencies to keep ourselves to ourselves in order to know one another better. The overall goal is increased love among believers. Then, hopefully, our neighbors will respond, when asked what they know about us, "I see how they love one another."
We want to hear what your church is doing to promote community. Please tell us below.