Lately I have heard a phrase coming from people at the Road. That phrase is, "I just don't feel connected." For some, that phrase comes from the fact that every person they were once close and connected to at the church has left for other churches or communities. For others, it comes from a lack of involvement or a lack of people their age and stage of life. For still others, it comes from an introverted and shy personality. And there are others who, in relationships, like to be pursued rather than pursue.
To not feel connected can be painful. I know what it's like to have friendships and connections in the church evaporate. In our previous ministry, after trying for several months to connect a group of young married couples, we learned that they had already been getting together for fellowship - we just hadn't been invited. That was a painful wound and none of those couples were ever a solid connection for us at the church.
Sometimes we put ourselves out there and try to connect with others but nothing seems to click. We once became close to another ministry couple and had dinner at each other's house occasionally. But once the husband stepped down from his pastorate, the main thing that bonded us was gone and we stopped getting together. We found there weren't many other commonalities to unite us.
Connection can be a tricky thing. Some people you wouldn't expect to hit it off, do, and others you think would be great together just don't mesh. Or there are people in our midst whose names we don't even know after months of attendance. We may feel like we just don't click with anyone and therefore, "lack connection". But declaring that we "just don't feel connected" may be premature. Here are some things each of us can do to make every effort to connect.
1. Try - Some of you are waiting to be approached - for someone to see you standing alone and invite you in. What if YOU looked for people like you and approached THEM? Be the type of person you wish would approach you. I know - easier said than done, but you know better than anyone how meaningful it could be to that person. Standing back, saying, "no one talks to me", isn't a solution. But, stepping out your comfort zone? That's a start. Even if you've tried before - try again.
2. Participate - When someone says they don't feel connected I do a quick inventory of what they're involved in. Usually they are not in a FUEL group, not serving in a weekly ministry, not hosting a group, not teaching a class, not meeting with anyone outside of Sunday morning and haven't shown up to any church events lately. It sounds like I'm exaggerating, I know. But over and over, people insist they're not connected, all the while not participating in the life of the church. The solution? Participate! Join in anyplace there is an opportunity.
3. Pray - Ask God to point you toward someone who needs connection as badly as you do. Ask God to give you the courage to step out and be a friend. Ask God to reveal to you ministries where you could happily serve AND make connections.
I realize that some of you reading this have said these very words to me. My response here is with love and concern that you begin to feel connected. If you already feel a sense of connection, praise God! Now, to be the family of God, we must reach out and extend an invitation to those who feel on the outside. Do it this week!