In 2017 technology abounds. We have every imaginable gadget available for our use at any given time. We can tweet, instant message, use snapchat, scroll on Facebook and of course we can reach out to one another the old fashioned way by calling someone but what we are missing is community.
I was born in 1952 and I am a baby boomer. When I grew up as a child we knew every one of our neighbors. There was Mrs. Gaines on one side of our house, The Moyt’s on the other. Across the street were the Cook’s, Van Hoosers, the Lyon’s, Arnold’s, and I can go on and on. We all knew each other and all the kids played regularly together. Today you probably don’t know much about your neighbors and most likely do not know many of their names.
We had neighborhoods that were safe to play in. We all could stay outside in the dark and play kick the can in the middle of the street. We rode our bikes around the block and played Cowboys and Indians. We couldn’t play that now we might be sued by some liberal activist that would say it is offensive to call them Indians. We walked to school together with our friends in the rain, snow or heat. We had secret clubs in our neighborhood that we thought nobody knew about (ha, ha), dance party’s at the school and we interacted regularly as a community.
Not everyone where I lived went to church, however, we had several churches within walking distance. Even after I became a Christian in 1970 I went to one of the Baptist Churches less than a mile from my house. People I knew from school attended these churches because they all were close to where we lived. It was another part of our community. We attended Sunday School class together, there were church dinners to attend and church wide fellowships on a regular basis. We stayed connected.
Now we seem to be more disconnected. Today we find that the local church has trouble gathering the majority of their membership over a four or five-week span. When people do come they want “drive-thru” church…..in and out! They do not want to be involved but they want the church to feed them and meet their needs. That is not community. In Acts 2:44-47 we read this “And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity-all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
Today we have all these electronic devices that can “reach out and touch” someone but it is not face to face communication. People need human interaction to thrive not just electronic communication. We have trouble gathering people to our churches because we have lost the environment that breeds community. Unless people participate regularly with others there is little to connect you. We stay connected when we share our lives and our hearts with each other not just a text, instant message or a Facebook post. Perhaps we need to find a new path to community similar to the way the early Church did.
Church culture in 2017 cannot compare to what it was in 62 A.D. but the need for community has never changed. To thrive you have to abide. You cannot thrive disconnected. Programs won’t create community, gimmicks won’t create community but a people joined together in intimate fellowship with the Lord and one another plus the power of the Holy Spirit moving freely will produce a culture for growth. It did in the early Church and it will today.
People need people not programs. People are starving for intimacy whether they recognize it or not. People are hungry for love. We were created in the image of God and God created us for relationship which comes from being a part of community. We are not designed to be alone. Remember to thrive you must abide! That happens when you stay connected.
Living by the brook,