We are be the most connected generation ever, with no shortage of ways to communicate with our fellow man. And yet, we may be the most isolated, individualistic generation ever. In some ways, Facebook, Twitter, IM, texting–has brought us closer together. And in other ways it’s kept us apart.
I talked about this interesting paradox with Erin Davis, author of an important new book, Connected. Here is one of the questions I asked her:
How can the Church provide answers for loneliness? Can an overemphasis on a “personal relationship with Christ” undermine our God-given need for community?
I believe the church holds the only vaccine to our lonely problem. But sometimes, our Christian communities elevate a solitary faith. God is supposed to be all we need after all, right?
I call it the Patmos Syndrome. We elevate John, isolated on the island of Patmos, as somehow more holy or more spiritual than John when he was part of a pack of disciples. We hold high those saints who go at it alone and willingly choose isolation for the sake of the kingdom.
But what if we’ve got it all wrong? What if God wanted us to be connected to others so much that he hardwired the craving to connect into our very DNA? The church needs to be teaching something that we see clearly in Scripture, mainly that we need each other. There is accountability, support, wisdom, and strength to be found in choosing to weave our lives into the lives of others.
For community to really take root, the church also must make peace with the messiness of life. If we feel we can only come to church as the best version of ourselves without sin or issues or fears, true connection will not happen. The Gospel draws people to churches, once they are there churches need to find ways to connect people with each other. This doesn’t have to be highly programmed but it can be. I think the churches that are doing it best have an overt culture of “we need each other here.”
You can read the rest of the interview here: