Psalm 68:6 says “God sets the lonely in families.”
The Vancouver Foundation consistently claims that loneliness is one of the biggest challenges for people living in this city. Seniors isolated in their apartments, care homes or rooms are lonely; young moms struggling to raise children are lonely; refugees and immigrants are lonely; leaders are lonely; young professionals fixed to the internet are lonely; people riding in Skytrains and buses are lonely; even some married people shelter behind closed doors in their own loneliness.
It is hard to see loneliness as a part of our churches. We think that if we can get isolated people into groups of people that loneliness will take care of itself. Several people have told me over the years that the hardest thing is to come to a service, to stand in the middle of so many happy people, and feel all alone.
The United Kingdom has now appointed a minister of loneliness to deal with the issue among 2 million seniors who are isolated from community – 200,000 admitted they regularly go over a month without speaking to another human being. In our city, it isn’t surprising to see people drive or commute alone, shop alone, eat alone, order coffee alone, watch a movie alone, walk or jog alone, read alone.
Local studies say at least one in five of us experience the sadness that comes from social isolation – reaping the impact on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Surprisingly, social media seems partially responsible for the sense of separation and human connection we tend to thrive and flourish on.
Connecting to community is essential for our overall health. Being part of a small group where you can share your life, get prayer support, learn with others, enlarge your perspective on God and sense a personal connection with the life stories of others seems to be something God has designed when he made us.
When’s the last time you shared a heart connection with someone who really saw you for who you are? When have you taken the time to initiate a contact so you could see someone else for who they are?
Today’s rising generation in our church needs the courage of Daniel and the daring of David to
embrace a faith that is rapidly falling out of favor with their peers. It’s no longer uncommon for
even church goers to go for weeks or months without considering what the Bible has to say
toward the situations and relationships they are dealing with.
Many millenials state openly they no longer believe that any of the religious texts which have
been guides to other generations and other nations have any value or relevance for today. None
of them are better than another.
Churches have tried to spin out more apps and digital resources, podcasts and YouTube
presentations, blogs, websites, Facebook and twitter posts, Instagram, Snapchat and other social
media in an effort to entice the next generation toward the faith. Even all this has limited
And yet, these rising generations which are sloughing off the practices, traditions and even
beliefs of established institutional churches, have a deep curiosity about what is authentic,
meaningful and transformative.
The big thing they desire is to belong in the story we embrace. They don’t just want to hear it.
They want to live it. That’s all about relationship across generations and across nations. They
want to be welcomed, listened to, shared with, appreciated. They want to engage in hospitality
around tables and circles where they can experience belonging.
There’s been enough modeling of what doesn’t work and what doesn’t change our world. This
new generation is looking for something that speaks to their heart, their hands and their hopes.
They need space and opportunity to wrestle with the declarations, demands and diverse teaching
Our church’s established members need daring faith to encourage those who are embracing
the truths we have held closely for so long. I’m encouraged to see how these next opportunities
will show themselves in our community and in our city.
In the first message after Jesus’ triumphant death, resurrection, ascension and birth of the church,
Peter quotes Joel’s hopeful declaration: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons
and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream
dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days
and they will prophesy.”
Together, across generations, we have a daring faith to embrace, live out and share. If the rising
generations are going to find their place in God’s story then those of us who have walked it for a
while need to constantly welcome them into the journey.