Church fulfills need for fellowship | Faithful Living
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
September 7, 2012 · Updated 4:10 PM
Do you attend church? According to the Barna Research Group, a marketing research company that regularly polls people across the nation about their morals and beliefs, those most likely to engage in a weekly church service are adults 50 and older, African-American, married, and living in the south, southwestern, mountain and Midwestern states. On Sundays the majority of these folks are sitting together in church sanctuaries and Sunday school classrooms.
Sunday is a day to attend church and is not only an undisputed place where various forms of worship are enjoyed, but where people serve each other, learn and socialize. Generations of families have been donning robes to sing in the choir, preparing Sunday Bible lessons, drinking coffee with friends, and going out to brunch afterwards because they view these activities as essential and meaningful to their lives.
This is certainly not the case in all parts of the country or for all people. Here in the Pacific Northwest, for example, the percentage of us who attend church on a regular basis is far smaller than in the Bible Belt. Some academics claim our social-regional response can be traced to the pioneering spirit that filled the hearts of early settlers. In the 1800s pioneers longed for rugged peaks and blue oceans, natural resources to contribute to their personal riches, and adventures different than those available in Middle America. They resisted classical social mores and have handed down those attitudes, generation to generation.
I think this is both interesting and valid. But rather than focusing on the causes and social consequences here, I’d like to point out the fact that God created us to be social beings. This comes as bad news to the lone rangers out there who like to do their own thing, have no patience for the idiosyncrasies of others, and do not like to be challenged by opinions other than their own. God’s ways are good and can be trusted, even if they are not a quick and easy fit into our schedules. He designed us this way for good reason: group participation, social connections, and “fellowship” (a term used most often by Christians who are referring to activities like small group Bible studies, potlucks and prayer breakfasts) will always bring us closer to each other and to God Himself.
So what is it that happens in a healthy fellowship? What things do people hope to experience when uniting in a church worship setting?
To expand even further, challenge yourself with these questions: What do people hope to gain by serving their community through service club membership? Or teaming to run a local water system? Or organizing a cookie-baking drive so kids can travel for music or athletic competitions? Or meeting with others regularly to drink coffee and talk about your lives?
Technology is profoundly changing our social interactions and mainline church and service club membership is falling. In the next weeks, let’s look at the effect growing isolation has on our lives and in our community.