A Lonely Christian.
From Anonymous: “I am a lonely Christian. I recently left a church that had begun teaching unbiblical things for solid bible believing church. This new church preaches the gospel, is involved in missions and evangelism, the elders all seem to be godly, sincere and caring. The only problem is that my new Church “family” has not really reached out to me. After a year I still feel alone and disconnected from the congregation. I don’t really talk to anyone after church. No one has invited me to a Bible study, and only a couple have invited me for lunch between services. Do you have any advice for a lonely christian feeling lost in a new church?”
I feel your pain. I really do. I have been there.
If you don’t have any prior connections to a congregation, it can certainly be difficult to establish roots in a new church. I understand how it may appear as though no one cares about you. I faced similar issues when I joined the Canadian Reformed Churches. Everyone across the denomination, it seemed, knew each other and most had their well established circle of friends from childhood… I had a very hard time fitting in. For over a decade I progressively isolated myself more and more, feeling sorry for myself that no one wanted to get to know me. I appreciated the doctrine of the church and the sound preaching, but aside from my girlfriend (now wife), and my roommate, I had no real friends in the church. I became very discontent and slowly isolated myself even further.
Isolation is dangerous for our faith lives. Proverbs 18:1 tells us,
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
And it is so easy to isolate yourself without even really trying. It is as easy as arriving to the service with minutes to spare (or come real early), making a bee-line to the back pew, sneaking out after the service, hopping in your car and driving home without speaking to anyone – and all the while wondering why no one wants to talk to you. That is what I did. If you begin isolating yourself don’t be surprised if you feel that your new church is “unfriendly.”
My advice is twofold.
1. Serve humbly. It’s not really a surprise that the humblest and most helpful members of the church are also the most liked and loved. Those who serve humbly are displaying exactly the kind of Christlikeness that our Saviour said we should in John 13:14-17:
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Go and figure out a way that you can wash your brother ans sister’s feet. Stop waiting for them to reach out to you; reach in to them first. Pray for and ask about opportunities to help out. A cheerful willingness to do those tasks no one likes to do, like cleaning up, taking out the trash, or washing the dishes after Sunday fellowship coffee, will certainly speak more about your Christian character than any words can. And our Lord says, “you will be blessed if you do them.”
2. Be hospitable. Continue to accept those invitations to have lunch with the members of your new church but also extend invitations to others to come to your home. Opening your heart and home to others is basic to Christian fellowship. Acts 2:42 says about the early church:
And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Join a Bible study, or start one and invite others to join you. Visit the elderly in the church, visit those who are sick and shut in, those who are more isolated than you are. Hospitality is vital to establishing fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 4:8-11
By humbly offering yourself to your brothers and sisters in service and opening your heart and home to others you will find the blessing that comes from Christian Fellowship. Stop waiting for others to wash your feet, wash theirs instead!