THE LONELY CHURCH
I have a friend in town whose life is filled with noise, he lives in a house filled with great “stuff”, he is constantly on the move and involved in every project. He is also a “fitness” guy, working out every spare moment, keeping himself looking good. Some weeks back, as he was working out, he suffered an injury that laid him up for a couple of weeks. For those weeks he couldn’t move, for at least three of those days he didn’t have access to his computer or television, he had to cancel some events that he had committed to – and he couldn’t exercise at all.
He confided to me that during that period, one of the most excruciating of his life, he had to stop and “listen to himself breath”.
He discovered all that noise and business covered the fact that he was incredibly…lonely and depressed.
Frankly, I’m not surprised. Doctors say that lonely people are sometimes hard to diagnose, the traditional “sadness” isn’t always evident, but there are symptoms: a lonely person fills their life with NOISE, THINGS, BUSINESS and SELF. These things keep a person’s life filled and their heart and mind distracted from the core problem, which is loneliness.
Can a CONGREGATION be lonely?
Well, let’s look at the symptoms my friend had:
Do some congregations fill themselves with NOISE; put a lot of emphasis on THINGS; spend much of its time doing BUSINESS and spending energy caring for THEMSELVES? I suppose that if a congregation is not careful, they could separate themselves easily from the reason for their existence: Jesus. And if a church didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, it might be easy to ignore that fact by filling themselves with NOISE, THINGS, BUSINESS and THEMSELVES.
I notice that none of these things (noise, things, business, & self-care) are bad in themselves. “Self-care” and “preservation” is necessary for any person or congregation. However, when the congregation realizes there is too many of these elements THEN they need to do a little different type of self-analysis and see where their relationship with Jesus stands.
I have, in my over-forty-five-years in the ministry, seen many congregations continue to function without the presence of God. They don’t even seem to notice. It is a reality and a danger.
How do we keep our relationship with God solid? How do we watch for the signs of “loneliness by separation” and keep vigilant? It is up to every leader, every committee, every Elder, Deacon, Teacher, Pastor to maintain a prayerful integrity of life within the church.
We exist as a LIVING body because God breathes the Spirit into us, because the Word examines and proves us, and because Jesus the Immortal stands with us. We have no life or purpose without God.
Let’s look to ourselves, asking God to regularly prod us to love Him through the love we have for each other. A church separated from their first love: Jesus, is lonely church and a dying church, no matter the size of the congregation…
…and a CONNECTED CHURCH is a living church, no matter the size of the congregation.