I love that God’s church is growing. I love that the beautiful message of the gospel is being heard by more people than ever before. I believe that it has been God’s intention all along to expand and grow the local church as much as it is growing and will grow in the future. However with massive growth comes new problems. One of these is that it can get extremely lonely for a visitor or new person, and sometimes even someone who’s been around for a couple years. It’s so easy to feel lonely in a crowd of people! I’ve even spoken to a few girls in our church that have been coming for up to two years and haven’t made a single friend. This can be a mixture of us not talking to them and them not stepping out and talking to us, but whatever the reason we who are fully stuck in need to begin to make a conscious effort to reach out to those people, old and new, who maybe don’t have established friendships in our local church. If we don’t help to get them properly knitted in, they could so easily sit on the sidelines, getting lost in the crowds for a couple months and eventually leaving the church because they feel happier and more accepted elsewhere. I have seen this happen too many times for my liking. Luckily, I attend a church that although fairly big and continuously growing is really intent on combating this problem. CCK is doing this in various ways. We now have a stand in our lounge area called Get Connected which anyone can go to and immediately get signed up to join a small group (amongst other things such as an Alpha or Beta course). We have also started Welcome Lunches/Suppers. These involve a great meal in a funky Brighton restaurant and an opportunity to mingle with other ‘new’ people, as well as getting to know our lead elder (Joel Virgo) and his wife a little better. This has definitely helped to draw people in and encourage new friendships. Now you might be thinking “But I’m not a leader in my local church; I can’t just randomly set up stands and organise lunches!”. That’s ok, neither can I! But one thing we can do is become more aware of the people outside of our social circle at church. Who’s looking a bit lonely? Who’s that boy/girl you don’t recognise, standing by themselves? You could even (shock horror) go so far as to get their number and start inviting them to stuff… A few months ago a very close friend of mine and I felt God put this issue strongly on our hearts, so we started organising girly nights and inviting some of the relatively new girls around to introduce them to eachother and to a few other girls at CCK. We’ve had dvd nights, cocktail and clubbing nights, bbqs (or ‘braais’ as we call them in my country) etc. As well as it being loads of fun and not hard to organise, we’ve begun to see real fruit in terms of the girls striking up friendships with one another, resulting in them serving the church together and funnily enough beginning naturally to draw other new girls into various friendship circles without even realising it! God so loves to see His children accepted wholeheartedly into the life of the church, socially as much as anything! I’d encourage you to look out for those girls/guys that seem new or a bit lonely. Draw them in! That’s yet another quality of Jesus’ character that I absolutely love, let’s see if we can be like that too!
Lonely in a crowd of people