The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ – Genesis 2:18
This article is the first part of a two-part series on the importance of the church community. This first article is about how important the church is to us as individual Christians. The second article will focus on how important it is to a church to have us.These two articles come out of an informal observation on the clients I see at Seattle Christian Counseling. Many of them are not connected to a home church. This is for a variety of reasons, but part of my initial appointment with someone is to ask about their spiritual life, and that includes attending church.
If this is not a part of a Christian’s life that I see in counseling, it becomes part of the treatment goals. This article helps understand just how important it is to have a home church.
Let’s start by bringing up the big bad word called “Loneliness.”
The word lonely according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means “being without company” or “cut off from others.” At some point in our lives, we feel lonely. For most people, we long for connection with others. Sometimes loneliness can get in the way of seeking out a community. For some of the clients I see, anxiety and depression happen as a result of feeling lonely, or loneliness can be a symptom of anxiety and depression.
I can’t ignore the fact that social media is a contributing factor in this issue. Willis states, “These advances – while not bad in and of themselves – have the potential to lead us into more isolated lonesomeness, especially when we replace authentic, vulnerable, face-to-face relationships with more-controlled, less-genuine social media ones.” As Genesis 2:18 says, God made us to be with others and not be alone, and being on social media is still something we do (for the most part) alone.
Many years ago, I used to manage foster homes. On one occasion, I supervised a date between one of the boys in the home and his girlfriend. We went to a fair that was happening in town. I was shocked to observe them sitting next to each other on a bale of hay, texting back and forth! They weren’t actually talking, but having their conversation via text! In the several hours they spent together, I think they had no more than ten minutes of verbal conversation.
The New York Times wrote an article last year in which they referred to loneliness as an “epidemic.” The research in this article noted the following disturbing statistics:
- Loneliness is a predictor of early death and surpasses obesity
- There is a link between loneliness and physical illness
- There is a link between loneliness and functional and cognitive decline
- Several key bodily functions are affected, including overstimulation of the body’s stress response, increased blood pressure, and a decrease of blood flow to vital organs
This information is from just one article and a few studies. Loneliness is a significant issue, even outside of those who know Jesus Christ.
When I explore this feeling with clients, there are themes within their answers. One is that there is a desire to belong, but also a fear of judgment by others. God has put in place a series of steps of acknowledging our sin by confessing, seeking forgiveness, and repenting. We all have to do this, and God placed a yearning in our heart to do this with other believers. It is within the church community that His redeeming work is done.
A church is a group of believers who are sinners, and God makes them brothers and sisters with a deeper foundation than anything the world can offer. “Even Jesus’ instruction for evangelism and mission were all given to a community of tight-knit believers – not simply to individuals (see Matt. 28:19; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). These types of communities bring hope to a lonely and isolated society. In fact, our entire lives are meant to be lived in community on mission (see Eph. 2:1-22)” (Willis, 2016).
The community that we have in a church is one of the attractive parts of Christianity. Not only do we have a living God who never leaves us, we have other men and women who are there for us, too.
It is so important for us to belong to a church community. If you need help identifying a place for you to belong, meet with one of our therapists at Seattle Christian Counseling and we can help guide you towards a place for you to belong.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2017).
New York Times article (2016).
NIV Women of Faith Study Bible (2001). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Willis, D. (2015). Life in Community: Joining Together to Display the Gospel. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
“Church,” courtesy of Tim Wright, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cross,” courtesy of Aaron Burden, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pianist,” courtesy of Jamille Queiroz, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Worship,” courtesy of Daniel Tseng, unsplash.com, CC0 License