Friday, January 23, 2009

Feeling Alone, Even in Church

We think we have lots of friends. We have Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, email, text messages galore.

But not really.

In reality we are....alone, disconnected, disjointed, and often bereft of friends. We Americans are pretty much lonely, and in many cases essentially alone. Solitary souls, often living our lives without meaningful relationships. It is getting worse, not better, as time marches on.

As support for this depressing concept, recently I came upon an article that is almost three years old in the Washington Post, and then found the original study upon which it is based here.
In 1985, the General Social Survey (GSS) collected the first nationally representative data on the confidants with whom Americans discuss important matters. In the 2004 GSS the authors replicated those questions to assess social change in core network structures. The number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled. The mean network size decreases by about a third (one confidant), from 2.94 in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. The modal respondent now reports having no confidant; the modal respondent in 1985 had three confidants. Both kin and non-kin confidants were lost in the past two decades, but the greater decrease of non-kin ties leads to more confidant networks centered on spouses and parents, with fewer contacts through voluntary associations and neighborhoods. Most people have densely interconnected confidants similar to them.
I really wonder if we church folk understand this. It has been my experience over the past 20 years or so that we in the church are, at our best, only marginally better than everyone else at staying connected, at having relationships that really matter.

This idea has recently come to me, in thinking about the way that we "do church" in our own church home, that we are ill connected, and our relationships suffer as a result.

And yet, we Believing People advertise ourselves as those who have seen a Great Light, and posssess, and can offer a better way to live life. Is this really true?

How do we get this right? Can we lead Kingdom inspired lives?
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