I want you to imagine progressive steps in the way we talk with each other from the most basic to the most personal. We move from saying things like "Hi, how are you," or "good to see you," to speaking facts such as, "I work at Chil-fil-a," or "I am from Kentucky," or "I am single, or divorced, or married," Taking a little more risk we express opinions or share ideas. An example might be, "have you seen the new Spiderman movie, it's really good," or, "I don't really agree with what you are saying." That's pretty honest. Finally we move toward revealing our hearts in saying such things as, "It meant a great deal to me that you brought me food when I was sick." or, "I am so worried about losing my job, will you please pray with me."
What level of communication do you expect to reach when you attend worship? What are your expectations? Occasionally I've encountered a person who attended that really didn't seem to want anyone to speak to them, but i think that's pretty rare. The odds are that a person will not continue to attend a church or any other such gathering if they don't begin over time to make some real connections. On the other hand, many attend, hoping and praying that someone will help them to address their desperate loneliness.
It is true that what we need more than anything is to encounter God in worship and to experience his presence. However, most people will not consistently be able to do that in a church where they really don't have a connection with anyone.
With all that in mind I challenge you to consider these steps to a more intentional approach toward what God intends for Biblical fellowship:
- Pray that God would use you to encourage and to relieve loneliness for at least one person when you attend.
- Arrive early enough to get some coffee and take the risk to move conversations beyond the surface.
- Look people in the eye and make a real effort to learn names.
- Deliberately sit with people, especially someone who seems to be alone.
- Attend a small group environment where you can invest more deeply in people.
- Find a way to serve. There are few better ways to connect with people than to roll up your sleeves next to someone and serve alongside them.
I once heard a pastor say that Biblical fellowship is, "to love and be loved, to know and be known, to serve and to be served, to celebrate and be celebrated."
What suggestions do you have for how we can better pursue this vision of Biblical fellowship? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.