When Church is the Loneliest Place

I love the church. I love the people. I love the singing, but most of all I love learning more about the Lord.

Sometimes though…okay, a lot of the time…church is a lonely place, and I don’t believe that I’m the only person who feels that way.

We walk into the church building on Sundays, wave to someone, hug somebody else, and then head to “our” pew and sit down. We sing, we pray, and we listen. Then the service is over. We get up. Maybe stop and talk to someone on our way out. Then we head out to our cars.

And as we leave, there is an aching in us, emptiness. This is a feeling that we don’t want to admit to because after all we just left church. We shouldn’t be feeling empty. We shouldn’t be feeling lonely. We deny it, but it is still there.

We think we should leave our worship serves and be filling full, filling satisfied, ready to take on a new week and face whatever comes with the Lord by our side.

And so when we leave the church service feeling empty, we deny it. We don’t want to admit that something is wrong.

You don’t leave hurt. You don’t leave angry.

You just leave with a longing for connection, a longing to be a part of something.

Connection

Community

A place to belong

Just to be a part of something

Instead we leave feeling disconnected and lonely.

Alone

The start of another week

Nothing has changed

The church is supposed to be a place of connection and community, not a place of loneliness and disconnection.

How can we change it? What do we need to do to make the change?

1)    Take responsibility. Don’t blame others for the way you are feeling. Take responsibility for it and determine to make the change. It starts with you.

2)   Make a habit to talk to 3 new people every time you show up. Don’t wait for people to introduce themselves to you. Go up to them and introduce yourself. Spend some time getting to know them.

3)   Go one step further…Invite someone you just met out to lunch.

4)   Join the greeter’s team. It is a great way to meet new people.

5)   Go to Sunday school. Or get involved in a mid-week Bible study. Getting involved with a small group is a great way to meet new people and build a sense of community within the church.

6)   Volunteer to lead a small group or volunteer with one of the church’s outreach programs.

7)   Find a mentor. Find someone you trust to meet with on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis to help you be accountable and to discuss the hard issues with.

8)   Be a mentor.

Remember: It starts with you.

If we want to change the church and make it less of a lonely place, the change starts with us. We have to be the change.

So here is your challenge for the week: Think of somebody in the church that you would like to get to know better and invite them to lunch next week.

15 Replies to “When Church is the Loneliest Place”

  1. Now that is a most practical word for us all – lonely or not. Perhaps in reaching out to meet others, we will be easing the loneliness of others. It may not be all about us. Wonderful post, Misty!

  2. GREAT insight and encouragement – to have friends we must be friendly – so true and so hard sometimes. Thanks for posting.

  3. Your steps at the end are something the Lord has been working on my heart about. If you feel lonely get up and do something about it. It’s your fault just as much as anyone else’s. I think you hit the nail on the head.

  4. imgrowinginhisgrace says: Reply

    It’s so true, and sadly a reason that so many leave a church…in search of a new church that they hope will fulfill this need.
    Found you on My Daily Walk In His Grace. Glad to meet you 🙂
    Blessings,

  5. I admire your attitude. However, I do believe church is letting single people down (in my experience). We call it a church family but in my experience, families take care of their own blood families. I have invited and been invited for lunch but it doesn’t go any further. I’ve told people flat out that I’ll be alone for Christmas and they continue to tell me all about their plans without inviting me. I’ve reached out over and over and it doesn’t go anywhere. I’ve had to find fellowship with a ladies group (Christian) outside the church to make that deep connection I crave. I’ve started attending a new church and I’m tired of reaching out. But I will try again using your advice!

    1. Laura, I agree with you that the church is letting single people down. I believe that in this area the church is letting families down too. And honestly this wasn’t easy for me to write because I am tired of trying and being rejected. I am lonely. My closest relationships right now are with people on the Internet because every time I get my nerve up to try and get to know someone in real life I get shot down. It’s hard and being an introvert makes it harder. Personally I would be content with just 1 friendship and I know many women who would tell me that I just need to get married but that isn’t the answer either. This is something that the Lord has been working on in my heart: I am not responsible for anyone else’s actions. I am responsible for my own. I can’t change anyone else, but I can allow the Lord to change me. Reaching out is hard especially when you have been knocked down time after time, but I have to do it if I want to be obedient to the Lord. Those who do the rejecting will have to answer for their response, but I want to say to the Lord, “I was obedient to you. When you told me to go, I went. When you told me to stay, I stayed. When you told me to love, I loved.”

  6. These are such fabulous tips! I’ve struggled often with not feeling a connection to people at church and it’s so true that when I step out of my comfort zone and pursue those connections amazing things happen!!! Thanks for linking this up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop! 🙂

  7. Great post! I have often thought how it’s interesting that I feel closer to the people I work with than the people I go to church with. Granted I see the people I work with 5 days a week and we’ve built a relationship over time and I do things with some of them outside of work. That’s the key, though, is building a relationship takes time and that’s often something you don’t put in with people from church. You see them one, maybe 2 days a week and that’s it. I think you give some very practical tips.

    1. Thank you, Megan! I felt that way too when I was working outside the home. Since I stay home with my grandmother, I have begun noticing how much I need relationships with people in the church.

  8. […] the music. We love the sermon. We love God. And yet church can often be the loneliest place. In this post, Misty shares some practical steps we each can take to begin to make a […]

  9. These are such great tips, Misty! Unity is something that has been on my mind for my church. I think the difficult part is that we easily think things will suddenly change because we’re all Christians but all relationships need work, they need time to develop and we need to be open and vulnerable to truly connect. And I don’t think it’s going to work with everyone. Sometimes we just don’t connect with people even though they are Christians and that is fine, too. And maybe with some people, forming a relationship might require more work. So thankful that we have the Lord and His grace to lean upon, to get strength and grace to reach out time and time again even when it feels scary and hard!

    1. Thank you, Ronja! You are right. We are not going to connect with everybody, and all relationships take work. Some take more work than others, but there is no easy button for relationships.

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