The need for community, relationship in some capacity, is essentially universal to human existence. On a theological level, this is because our God exists in a trinitarian relationship in the godhead. His creation which bears his image also has this intrinsic need for relationship.
As I said in my previous post, church is the community of those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What better place is there to fulfill this need for relationship? Yet, so many people leave church congregations because they failed to build the relationships that they expected. Research shows that if a new person at a group or church does not make at least 7 friends in the first 7 weeks they will not stay at that church.
In this post I want to explore the connection between serving and relationship building. Someone who has been serving in the church as a lay leader for years sent this to me a while back that I think has great insight into this connection…
“I feel that frequently at my church, we are begging for volunteers. Usually this is directed towards children’s ministry, but it truly covers all of the ministries we have.”
“I also have heard on and off through the years that my church is an unfriendly church. Numerous families have left for “greener pastures” because friendships were not built or they felt excluded in some way. This has come up again recently and it has been weighing heavily on my heart.”
“While thinking about specific families who I have heard this from, most of the time those families are not involved in serving in any areas of ministry. They attend Sundays and even Wednesdays, but they are not committed to any specific areas of ministry.”
“My closest friendships at my church have formed from working together. Yes, they have been in children’s ministry, but that is where I am at this stage of my life. We have worked our way from nursery volunteers to currently teaching 3rd and 4th grade children’s church. Friendships were built listening to girls recite verses in AWANA on Wednesday nights. Friendships were built chatting with my son’s 4 and 5 year old Sunday school teacher while picking him up. If neither of us had taken that step to get involved, I wouldn’t have just walked up to her in the sanctuary or hallway and started a conversation. One friendship leads to another friendship and your circles expand.”
“I truly believe serving is necessary for Christians. God asks us to step out of our comfort zones, to follow where he directs and to obey when he calls. I heard from somewhere that God calls us to rise from our knees of prayer (and yes, that means that action must come first) , and step out with faith. I think if more church attendees acted on this, we wouldn’t be begging for volunteers and we wouldn’t have a reputation as an unfriendly church.”
“This is not something the Pastors and Elders can change. This rests on the shoulders of the Body of Christ.”
(This is not meant to be a comprehensive analysis on why people leave the church. Certainly, there are many reasons why church-goers leave individual churches.)