When my husband and I moved to small-town Minnesota, an hour away from our closest family and friends, I suddenly found myself without the people who made me feel like a whole person. I was living in a town where I knew no one and no one knew me. It was a very isolating feeling. Since all these other people had no reason to think I was in need of a friend (unlike moving for college or seminary), I knew I needed to find the people. I have heard this desire for new friendships echoed by my friends who have moved to get jobs or be with significant others. We are starving for an eHarmony with the end goal of weekly Crockpot nights with neighbors.
Here are three things I’ve noticed:
- One: The church has people. Is people, actually. I can’t say anything about the quality of those people because apparently God doesn’t work like that.
- Two: If you are dying to meet people, Sunday morning worship is a crappy way to accomplish that. There is no time to talk to people, which is generally how people meet.
- Three: The local Catholic school holds a weekly Bingo night at a local restaurant as part of their fundraising. Though people were occupied with eating and dobbing their cards, it felt good to be with people who were having a good time. It felt good to be out of the house. As the weeks rolled on, people noticed when my husband and I were gone. They noticed my pregnancy. They started joking with us. It felt good to be noticed.
Here are the missional questions I’m left with:
- What does it mean to tend to people’s social lives as an integral part of their faith? Youth ministers might have some helpful insights on this topic.
- If Sunday morning worship is the pinnacle event during the week at a church and yet it requires little to no social interaction, what does that say about our faith communities?
- Can/should conversation skills (the very basis of relationships) be taught as an important and enriching spiritual practice rivaling prayer or Bible study?
I’ll leave you with this one last thought; I have a sneaking suspicion that it is not only the highly transitory Millennial generation that is starving for meaningful social interaction. I have heard my Gen-X mother complain that after raising her kids in church and volunteering all those years, she wants to just have some fun at church. Food for thought!
Photo credit: Creative Commons image by TransformGrace on Flickr
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