In recent years, many have discovered that human beings seem to be designed with a deep need for connection. It is the same as what we observe in nature. Even at the sub-atomic level, everything seems to have this deep need to connect and interact with other things.
When we talk about connection and community, religious people automatically assume that the church is the best place to find this community and connection.
But is it really?
In most churches, the main activity is the service or mass or liturgy, which consists of a rehearsed performance where audience members marginally participate. They listen to rehearsed music and soon after, they depart unless there is a pre-planned activity like a potluck dinner.
Throughout the week, there may be a limited number of planned group activities like Bible studies and small groups. Special services like Easter and Christmas invoke more group participation and connection. Some would point to this as the best way of connecting with people and finding community.
But to me, it seems like faux community at best. First of all, religious organizations are generally homogenous. Most of the people believe exactly like us and look very similar to us. The Sunday morning worship service still the most segregated hour of the week.
Most of the activities are also not designed for deep intimacy. They are group activities led by clergy and volunteers that intend to direct us towards a desired aim or belief. They are generally not designed for us to reveal our secrets and find deep healing. Most of the activities are designed to lead us towards the corporate goals of the organization.
Church activities also take us away from our real communities where we live. Every hour spent traveling to and from church and getting ready and then participating in church activities is time where we are not with our real family and our real community.
And, to make a long story short, that’s really the point. We already have community and we already have connection. We are either ignoring the connections and community we have or we are distracting ourselves with other activities, such as going to church.
Our best move might be to take a deep breath, go within, and find intimacy in the connections we already have. Nature illustrates this so clearly.
It makes little to no sense to uproot and leave my natural community and connections to go somewhere else and hire someone to supervise my community. Perhaps, I just need to put down my phone and connect with my family and decide not to go to church today.
Just because the church keeps demanding that they are our family and that they should be the one to supervise our connections and community, doesn’t mean they are any good at it or that they should have any authority in the matter.
Just like the rest of nature, we intuitively know how to connect. We have everything we need to connect to the community that is all around us.
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
We talk about connection a lot in our new book, Out Into the Desert!