I recently read an article talking about loneliness. Since the 1950's, the rate of people reporting loneliness has steadily increased. In fact, the rate of reported loneliness today has actually tripled from 1985. The generation where loneliness appears most prevalent? Millennials.
Don't get me wrong. Loneliness affects everyone. Every single generation from the beginning of time has experienced it. But there's something different about the loneliness of today. It's accepted. It's considered normal. There's a despairing sense of "that's just the way it is".
But the truth is, it doesn't have to be that way.
We choose to be shallow.
We choose to be too busy to make plans.
We choose to cancel on each other.
We choose to ghost someone who we no longer want to be friends with.
Despite our longing for deep, authentic, reliable relationships, we choose to do things that lead to loneliness. And these choices don't just lead to our own loneliness. They lead to the loneliness of those around us too.
Our Choices Affect More Than Just Us
Study after study show that more than any other generation, Millennials report being lonely. What stands out to me about this isn't the fact that they are lonely. Or that they are of a certain demographic. It's that they are reporting it. They openly admit that they lack true friendships. They openly admit that they long for deep connection. There's a level of honesty about the situation that speaks volumes about a generation who desperately needs others to come beside them.
What an opportunity for the church to show the love of Christ.
"We loved you so much that we gave you not only God's Good News, but our own lives, too."
(1 Thessalonians 2:8)
We, as the body, are a family. Our relationship with one another isn't just a doctrinal or theological concept. It's a reality that should directly affect how we view this life and how we view others. We stand beside each other as brothers and sisters.
So when we see a whole generation openly admitting to a despairing reality of loneliness…we must do something. We must share not only God's Good News - we must share our own lives too.
Today we live in a world where there's an app for everything.
And the church isn't somehow in a vacuum unaffected by this.
Looking for a sermon? Got it.
How about a song? Yep.
Bible Study? Right here.
Bible Reading Plan? Boom.
So what's at church that can't be provided through an app?
Fellowship. Community. Family.
The ability to look someone in the eye and say "no really, how are you?".
The opportunity to embrace others in a hug that says more than any words can.
The joy of being able to hear others with one voice proclaiming God's truth through song.
The comfort and encouragement of joining with others to pour out hearts in prayer.
The safety of knowing you can call someone up at midnight when you have a problem.
The memories made when sharing a meal or playing games together.
It's not enough to just show up for a Sunday morning service. It's not enough to simply long for change. We can't just sit idly by hoping this culture of loneliness works itself out. We, each and everyone of us of every generation, must choose to invest in each other. To point each other to Christ. To authentically and vulnerably share our lives with one another. To genuinely love each other.
Because if we the church won't, who will?