You Can Provide a Bible, Food, and Shelter to Persecuted Christians >>>

10 Reasons Your Church is Full of Lonely People

10 Reasons Your Church is Full of Lonely People

I’m sure at one time or another, all of us have felt lonely. Maybe we just moved to new surroundings. Maybe we started a new school and we don’t know anyone.

According to Wikipedia, “Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation.” And yet, our churches are full of lonely people.

How could that be? Isn’t the church supposed to be a place that invites anyone and accepts everyone? If that’s true, how can people be in a place where everyone is welcome, yet feel all alone?

Let’s look at 10 reasons your church may be full of lonely people and let’s consider some solutions.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/kadirdemir

  • 1. People don't feel safe enough to connect.

    1. People don't feel safe enough to connect.

    Everyone needs to be seen, but some people feel inferior. Like Sherry, who’s from an abusive home. Sherry tried church before, but sharing was too hard; she knew she needed to keep her private life private. Sherry found that when she shared, people stepped back. Then she would feel odd. Like maybe she’d never fit in. Church may be a haven for some, but not for all.

    What’s a solution?

    Philippians 2:3 says we need to consider others better than ourselves. Jesus never saw himself better than anyone. He met all kinds of people and he met them where they were, even tax collectors, like Zacchaeus. When we reach out to others, we are becoming like our Savior.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/tepic

  • 2. Churches make groups with walls. The walls need to come down.

    2. Churches make groups with walls. The walls need to come down.

    Debra cringed when she saw the small group tables. It was that time again, where the church introduces all the groups available. There are many groups—for those with small children, for those with older children, for empty nesters. But no groups for singles out of college. It was fine when Debra was in youth group, and even later, when she attended a college group. But once she graduated college, she no longer had a group where she belonged.

    What’s a solution?

    Perhaps groups could be formed where it doesn’t matter what stage of life people are in. Young or old would both be welcome. In fact, in Titus 2:3-5, it gives instructions to older women. Groups that have young and old alike would present opportunities for this kind of sharing. Some walls need to come down.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/vadimguzhva

  • 3. People with unseen illnesses cannot always attend church services, which makes it hard to connect with others.

    3. People with unseen illnesses cannot always attend church services, which makes it hard to connect with others.

    Vickie made her way inside the sanctuary, taking her seat by two women she knew. She didn’t sleep well again last night, but she also didn’t want to miss another Sunday. She felt disconnected as it was. Then Vickie overhead the women talking about another event, which she had missed. Vickie felt excluded and unimportant. Sometimes when someone is unable to attend an event, people think they don’t want to come. But that’s not always the case. Vickie felt lonely.

    What’s a solution?

    When we know those who struggle with illness, we could give them a call. Perhaps offering them a ride might enable them to come. Checking on someone makes them feel valued. But we can also do what it tells us in 1 Peter 3:8; we can give them kindness. That always makes someone feel important.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/AtnoYdur

  • 4. People who have less feel like they are the only ones.

    4. People who have less feel like they are the only ones.

    Terry cringed as she saw the offering basket coming down the row. She was hoping to have missed that time of the service. It was hard enough pulling up in her 20-year-old car and parking next to the shiny ones, and wearing the same outfit almost every week. But not being able to give to her church hurt the most.

    Terry felt so alone. The church had been wonderful to her and her family, helping them  financially, but sometimes, she felt more like a project than a person.

    What’s a solution?

    People who have less are not worth less. We can help someone feel cared for by giving them our time. Even greeting them and using their names helps. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. A person needs to know they are valuable because they are made in God’s image. In Matthew 25:35, we are told to treat others like we would treat Jesus.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/grinvalds

  • 5. Divorced people have lost not only their spouses, but their identity as well.

    5. Divorced people have lost not only their spouses, but their identity as well.

    Steve slipped into the pew. He was hoping to see another guy he knew, but no luck. Somehow he felt like everyone was looking at him. No one knew he didn’t ask for the divorce. He never wanted it. And yet, it still happened. He felt like the loneliest person on earth. Everywhere he looked he saw couples, families. It was excruciating. People were kind, smiling, talking to him, but nothing felt the same. Nothing would ever be the same. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep coming, feeling so alone.

    What’s a solution?

    When a person is divorced, their whole world has come apart. They need understanding, support, and people who will be there for them. They need to be reminded of Psalm 34:18. God understands and is close to those who hurt. Calling up and inviting a divorced person to dinner is a special treat. Eating alone is painful for them. And while functions with families may be hard for them, we can still invite them out to eat at a restaurant of their choice.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Halfpoint

  • 6. The grieving person feels alone, even in a crowd.

    6. The grieving person feels alone, even in a crowd.

    Holly slipped her hand in her pocket to make sure she still had tissues. She knew once the music started she might need them. It was hard for Holly ever since Rod had passed away. She thought going to the same church might be easier than walking into a new one, but seeing their friends with that look in their eyes was too much.

    Looking over and seeing all the couples, Holly felt a tear slide down her face. Not now. Pull yourself together. Those who are grieving struggle in church. They are raw in their emotions. It hurts on a day to day basis, and sometimes they wonder if they will ever feel better.

    What’s a solution?

    We never know what someone else is going through, or what burdens they carry. God tells us to share each others burdens (Galatians 6:2). The only way we can do that is by entering into someone’s pain. Don’t be afraid that they will hurt; they are already hurting. Let them talk about their loved ones. And if they share their sorrow, we can listen. That’s what they need the most.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/kzenon

  • 7. Sometimes those with smiles are the loneliest people. They just cover it up.

    7. Sometimes those with smiles are the loneliest people. They just cover it up.

    Cindy walked in smiling as usual, with every hair in place. She never shared how she was really doing. When asked, she would say everything was wonderful, everyone was fine. But inside, Cindy was hurting. She never felt free to say it. Others might think she was not trusting God. And how would that look as a leader? Cindy felt so lonely.

    What’s a solution?

    We need to hear what people are not saying. To create a safe place where someone can share who they really are, not a fake version. If church does not provide enough time to get to know someone, inviting them over for a cup of tea might be the answer. Then we can show them how much we care by giving them our full attention. 

    When people feel safe enough, they will let down their guards. Everyone needs to feel cared for. Especially those who are servants. Look around for other caregivers too. Those caring for the sick or elderly. They are exhausted and need a word of encouragement. You can be their glass of cool water like it talks about in Proverbs 11:25. Then we will be refreshed as well.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 8. Some people are not extroverts. But they still need connection.

    8. Some people are not extroverts. But they still need connection.

    Every church has introverts.They slip into place right before church starts, and as soon as the last word is spoken, they are ready to leave. They find crowds overwhelming. Sometimes we think introverts are unwilling to socialize, but they just need the right environment. Sometimes they are quiet, but they are just observant. Being with people takes their energy, whereas extroverts are energized by social interactions.

    What’s a solution?

    One answer is to meet the introvert where they are. The conversation doesn’t have to be a long one. You can just tell them you are happy to see them, or glad that they joined you. Some acknowledgement can go a long way to preventing someone from feeling invisible. Talking one on one is easier for an introvert than expecting them to interact in a group. It could feel like all eyes are on them.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/SIphotography

  • 9. People who are new to church feel like they stick out.

    9. People who are new to church feel like they stick out.

    Sarah guided her husband and children to a row of empty seats. Quickly she got them to sit down. She looked around at everyone before she made any move, afraid to be doing the wrong thing. Sarah had wanted her family to go to church for years. But she quietly wondered if she had waited too long.

    What’s a solution?

    All we have to do is remember the first time we went somewhere new. Who approached you? Did you feel welcome? We simply need to show compassion and hospitality, just as it says in Hebrews 13:2. And before long, they may feel like a part of the church, instead of being on the outside looking in. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Jupiterimages

  • 10. Sometimes the ones you'd least expect are lonely, the ones who know everyone.

    10. Sometimes the ones you'd least expect are lonely, the ones who know everyone.

    Julie took her place, and as always, looked lovely. I wondered who she had to talk to. Surely she knew everyone, being the pastor’s wife and all, but who were her friends? I watched as she smiled at the little boy in the row before her. She looked up at her husband at the pulpit. Are they ever lonely?

    What’s a solution?

    It’s true, the pastor and his wife could know most everyone in their church. They greet and fellowship with people on a regular basis. And every time the door of the church is open, they are there. But that doesn’t mean they are connected. God tells us in Galatians 6:10 to do good to everyone, and then he mentions those in the faith. Honoring your pastor and his family honors God. 

    If your church is small, why not invite your pastor and his wife to dinner? And if your church is larger, just drop off a plate of cookies with a note of appreciation. It will dispel any feelings of isolation that the shepherd of the flock would ever feel. 

     

    Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 14 books. You can get a copy of her free eBook, Real Love, or connect with Anne at her Facebook page or visit her website.

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock