It only takes one
During COVID-19, there has been some really interesting research into spirituality.
It started a week ago when I was listening to the radio (yes I confess I listen to Christian radio). McCrindle has discovered that a third of the people surveyed were praying more and about 40 percent thinking more about God.
Australians are thinking more about God and admitting it, out loud!
Add to that some research coming out of Barna Group in the USA. They, like Fuller Institute, highlight how strong relationships within Church help build resilient disciples.
Here’s the interesting thing …
Note the top line – I have at least one close friend I trust with my secrets. Half of the people researched didn’t have someone that they trusted to be deeply honest with, not even habitual church attenders were much better but Resilient Disciples were at 83 percent, what is that about?
Here is my guess, when we take the life of Jesus seriously and it has become deeply embedded in who we are and we meet with others who live this way too, there is an honesty that comes with it, a vulnerability. We no longer need to be perfect because we are saved, loved, held by the grace of God. When you hang out with others who hold you in the same way, it only deepens the experience. Living in this space should mean we have nothing to prove, as we are loved by God, and in turn, we are also loved by those who follow God.
Interestingly the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare did some research a couple of years ago that stated: “social contact alone does not reduce loneliness, it may be that the building of quality relationships… can reduce feelings of loneliness”(AIHW Social Isolation and loneliness).
I wonder if this is your experience of Christian fellowship? Do you still feel lonely and isolated when you turn up to Church? Is it about rocking up on Sunday morning, or to a group? Is it about what you know, how you do it or who you know?
Interestingly it only takes one deep relationship to change this. Just one…
In this COVID time we have an opportunity. We might not be able to meet as a whole community, but what if every member of the Uniting Church chose to meet with a member of the congregation to go deep. Make time for each other each week and love each other as Jesus did. I wonder what sort of transformation it would bring to our Church?
Now imagine if we decided to meet with a person not part of the Church as well. To love them as Jesus loves us. To become that trusted friend who loves them unconditionally sees the best in them, is real with them and allows them to be real with us too. Being real and honest about what is going on in their lives, the joys and the struggles.
I’m not asking much… Just one person..
Mostly that’s all Jesus did, met with just one person, met them for who they were, saw who they could be and loved them.
This is the Church I want to come out of COVID with, let’s stop worrying about numbers and go deep together with God and see where God takes us. I don’t think there is any promo, or system or process that is going to help the Church grow at the moment. It is only through the Spirit of God. We don’t want people to just rock up to our stuff we want people to have the chance to deeply connect with God. That starts with an invitation to be real.
I’m not asking much… Just one person…
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is the Pulse Leader