Last week I had the joy of preaching on the importance of community and friendships at Kerith Sandhurst, the multisite venue of Kerith Community Church that Heather and I lead. Take a listen by clicking the podcast image below.
People join churches for all sorts of reasons (the quality of the worship, social justice initiatives, kids work etc.), but those kinds of things don't keep people there.
After some time, these initial things that cause people to set up home in a church lose their novelty. They lose their initial impact, they don't necessarily cry at every worship experience, or they notice the little habits of the preachers and those on the platform. Things begin to annoy them as they realise that the church isn't perfect.
So what does keep people in a church? There are probably a few things, but relationships with others are absolutely key.
We don't just need 'after the service' chats with people. We need friendships. Real friendships. Help-me-with-my-DIY friendships, come-round-for-a-coffee friendships, cry-on-the-shoulder friendships, iron-sharpening-iron friendships, sitting-in-your-jogging-bottoms friendships, raid-the-fridge friendships. All sorts. Developing deeper connections and friendships with others is key, because loneliness is rife. At times we all feel lonely. And that's not what we've been created to feel. We're created to be in community with others. That's why loneliness feels so awful.
Anyway, if you have a spare half hour, take a listen to the podcast/preach from last week at church and get pursuing some epic friends.