A while ago I listened to another pastor speaking about trends that affect the church world, and one of the takeaways I had from it was that whilst for many centuries church leaders were more educated about Scripture, Google and readily available education has radically altered that balance. This means that people are no longer attending church simply to get information.
If there is something you want to know about some aspect of Christianity or the Bible, chances are you will be more comfortable getting that information from a computer screen, rather than risk an uncomfortable conversation with a pastor, or have to bear with the inconvenience of having to tee up a coffee with me.
I understand that, because I very much deal with my questions that way too!
But one thing that a computer screen cannot give to you is true belongingness. A safe place of acceptance, a family, a place for you to contribute ... technology cannot provide. But a church can!
I spoke about how Lift's core value of "family" and how we as a church need to excel in providing a sense of belonging for people. That podcast is available under the title "How to Family". For this blog post though I would like to turn the focus to those that are searching for belongingness but are finding it really hard.
Without knowing who you are exactly and what your experiences have been, I'm presenting something that I learnt while preparing for this message. See, God has created us to always "give and receive" (e.g. Matt 10:8). And psychologists have found that people who received love without giving it, and people who gave love without receiving it described the experience as adverse! Apparently love is highly satisfying and desirable only if it is mutual. Belongingness works on this mutuality, this reciprocity. Without this 2-sidedness, the result is distress and disappointment.
Are you on either end of 1-sided belongingness? Do you struggle to give OR receive? If so you might be missing out on the belongingness that you're craving.
While I understand that there could be big, deep-rooted issues you could be dealing with in this issue, I believe that the way to health is often one step at a time. What is that step you can take this week?
PS - A couple of books that might be helpful for you in your journey is Scary Close by Donald Miller, and Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. I read Scary Close earlier this year and it was a fantastic, eye-opening book on being vulnerable and finding intimacy. I'm currently reading Boundaries and it's very practical and will help you to know when to say yes and no, especially when it comes to relationships.