Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Loneliness in a Crowd?

So very alone...

Interesting. My little bits recently on Homeless Churchie, Perfect Church, and Church Shopping have started the gears turning inside Tod Bolsinger's head. This is great; and perhaps will engender more conversation about what the church does well, and not so well. We might also touch on what the church "blows chunks" at, if you will, to coin a phrase from the eminent pastor KC Wahe.

I have seen quite a bit of church "chuck blowage" in my last 25 years, but have also experienced so many good things, much blessing, and have met the finest, most sincere, honest and wonderful people I know - all in church. A veritable rainbow, if you will.

And now on to today's topic, illustrated above - loneliness. My wife and I have been experiencing quite a bit of this as of late, as we have left the comfortable confines of our church home, after 17 years of involvement. We have, so far, been to two different churches in the past eight months or so, and have visited a third church together as well. As I look back, the common thread is one of a haunting sense of loneliness associated with our church visits. The worship is fine, the sermons are good, even great on some occasions. But the interaction, the "fellowship" if you will, is sadly lacking. If I never showed up again, no one would know, or care.

But our family is doing alright - don't worry about us. We will survive. What I wonder about is this:

What about the experiences of those attending church with real needs? Those not accustomed to the folly of "church" folk. What of those with needs that nearly ooze out of their pores. Relational pain, the loss of someone close to a horrid disease or accident, those who have suffered abuse, or addiction, or great suffering. Others who are profoundly confused, or lost, or just plain mad at God? If my wife and I leave many Sundays feeling strangely lonely, what of these others? What do they think of church? Did someone greet them, ask them their name? Will they come back? Will anyone care?

Or will that deep sense of quiet, relentless, haunting loneliness become, in the words of song writer Bob Bennett, their Shadow Companion? And is the church powerless to combat it? Is our work ever done, as long as one of these still sits quietly in the back, come Sunday morning?

Crucial News Item!

And you think this blog does not offer important news items?
Prepare to have your paradigm shifted.
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