Sunday, May 29, 2011

"I'll go to church, but I'm not getting to know anybody."

A friend of mine said that to me this week. Voices echoed in my head "you need to get to know people" "People in church are flawed just like anywhere else." I couldn't bring myself to pass any of that on though, because, despite my recent renewed efforts to connect with Christians I attend church with, I knew, and felt, exactly what she meant...and I honestly didn't have an answer.

From youth activities to volunteer projects to singles Bible studies to young adult groups and women's dinners, I've done and been involved with probably every type of function a church can possibly have to offer. I've been burned and disappointed the same way there that I have been at work and in social activities, so when she shared to me how she'd been turned off by the gossip and backstabbing she'd recently witnessed first hand at a friend's church, all I could do was listen.

Writing about this though, I'm realizing it's not just about the church. I'm dealing with, and have dealt with the same efforts to degrade and wear down self-esteem and well being in others in the secular areas of my life. There, I've had the same apprehensions, misgivings and overall wear in my resolve of getting to know, and getting involved with new groups.

Long story short, I'm tired, my friend is tired. A lot of the world is tired.

I think this issue is especially relevant to singles and those who don't have children because we inherently have more time and resources to connect with groups. That though, also puts us in a position where we're more frequently exposed to environments that wear down our social tolerances. Those of us that are introverted or socially shy, wear down more quickly because there are fewer benefits offered us in group participation. What's more, with time and age (I'm calling 30 as the magic age) the prospect and hope of "new" sparkles less and less.

I'm at a point in my life where I'm genuinely beginning to question the benefit of planned, large group interaction, aside from the satiation of some extrovert needs. I'm reminded of the fact that around him Jesus had a relatively small group of connections, and even within that small group, he kept a few apostles closer than others.

When I look at all the problems, all the willing bodies lost to bad environments, all the hurt feelings and crushed enthusiasm, I do see one common theme that this book addresses. Basically, it's a no tolerance policy for rudeness, abruptness, callousness, meanness, underhanded behavior and the like. That means that people entering an organization know it's not tolerated and when it's seen, it's addressed immediately with a warning. Repeat behavior earns an expulsion.

I know that doing this in the church wouldn't work the same as it does in business, but I think the spirit of dealing with detrimental and poisonous behavior is one that all organizations, business or otherwise, would benefit from.

All of this makes me beyond thankful for the friends and Christians that I do have in my life, since the idea of building those types of connections and trust at this age seems, though not impossible, incredibly difficult. 


  1. Good read. Um...I don't want to do anything social. Just reading the list of things you do at church made me tired. I have a genuine "fellowship" problem where I don't desire it in any social situation, secular or theist. And you know me, I am not shy. I simply do not want to do any of these things for the most part, though there are exceptions throughout the year.

  2. Yeah...For me, I think the regularity of interraction takes its toll on me. I sometimes say that monthly interraction is my ideal, but spending a year organizing a monthly cultural meeting and it became dry and burdensome.

    I think that's why I personally prefer activities where socializing is secondary (volunteer projects, visits to festivals/museums) to the main event. I don't mind socializing on occasion, but I almost never had an inclination to do it for its own sake.