10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (2023)

  • Anne Petersen Crosswalk.com Contributing Author
  • 2017 July 26th
10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (1)

I'm sure we've all felt lonely at some point. Maybe we just moved to a new area. Maybe we started a new school and don't know anyone.

According to Wikipedia, “Loneliness is a complex and usually uncomfortable emotional response to isolation.” And yet our churches are filled with lonely people.

How can that be? Shouldn't the church be a place that invites everyone and welcomes everyone? If that's true, how can people be in a place where everyone is welcome and yet feel all alone?

Let's look at 10 reasons why your church might be full of lonely people and come up with some solutions.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/kadirdemir

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  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (2)

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

    Slide 1 of 10

    Everyone needs to be seen, but some people feel inferior. Like sherry coming from an abusive home. Sherry has tried church before, but sharing was too difficult; She knew she had to keep her private life private. Sherry found that when she shared something, people backed off. Then she would feel weird. As if she might never fit in. The Church may be a haven for some, but not for all.

    What is a solution?

    Philippians 2:3says that we must think of others as better than ourselves.Jesusnever saw himself better than anyone else. He met all sorts of people and met them where they were, even tax collectors like Zacchaeus. When we reach out to others, we become like our savior.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/tepic



  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (3)

    2. Churches form groups with walls. The walls must fall.

    Slide 2 of 10

    Debra winced when she saw the small group tables. It was that time again when the church introduced all available groups. There are many groups - for those with small children, for those with older children, for empty nesters. But no groups for singles outside of college. It was okay when Debra was in youth group and even later when she was in college group. But by the time she graduated from college, she no longer had a group to belong to.

    What is a solution?

    Maybe groups could be formed in which it doesn't matter what phase of life the people are in. Young or old would both be welcome. Actually inTitus 2:3-5, there are instructions for older women. Groups that include young and old alike would provide opportunities for this type of sharing. Some walls must come down.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/vadimguzhva

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  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (4)

    3. People with invisible illnesses cannot always attend church services, making it difficult to connect with others.

    Slide 3 of 10

    Vickie walked into the sanctuary and sat next to two women she knew. She didn't sleep well last night again, but she didn't want to miss another Sunday either. She felt separated anyway. Then Vickie spoke to the women about another event she missed. Vickie felt left out and unimportant. Sometimes when someone can't attend an event, people think they don't want to come. But that's not always the case. Vickie felt lonely.

    What is a solution?

    If we know those who are struggling with diseases, we could call them out. Perhaps offering a ride might enable them to come. Reviewing someone makes them feel valued. But we can also do what it tells us1 Petrus 3:8; we can give them kindness. It always makes someone feel important.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/AtnoYdur



  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (5)

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

    Slide 4 of 10

    Terry winced as she saw the offering basket coming down the line. She hoped to have missed this part of the service. It was hard enough pulling up her 20-year-old car and parking next to the shiny ones and wearing the same outfit nearly every week. But not being able to give to her church hurt the most.

    Terry felt so alone. The church had been wonderful for her and her family and had helped them financially, but at times she felt more like a project than a person.

    What is a solution?

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    Those 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 that they are valuable because they were created in God's image. InMatthew 25:35, we are told to treat others as we wouldJesus.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/grinvalds



  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (6)

    5. Divorced people have not only lost their spouses but also their identities.

    Slide 5 of 10

    Steve slipped into the bank. He was hoping to meet another guy he knew but no luck. Somehow he had the feeling that everyone was looking at him. Nobody knew that he had not asked for a divorce. He never wanted it. And yet it happened. He felt like the loneliest person on earth. Everywhere he looked he saw couples, families. It was awful. People were friendly, smiling, talking to him, but nothing felt like the other. Nothing would ever be the same again. He didn't know how much longer he could come feeling so alone.

    What is a solution?

    When a person is divorced, their whole world collapses. They need understanding, support and people who are there for them. They must be rememberedPsalm 34:18. God understands and is close to those who hurt. Calling and inviting a divorced person to dinner is a special treat. Eating alone is painful for them. And although events with families can be difficult for them, we can still invite them to dine at a restaurant of their choice.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/Halfpoint



  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (7)

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

    Slide 6 of 10

    Holly put her hand in her pocket to make sure she had tissues. She knew once the music started she might need it. It's been hard for Holly since Rod died. She thought that going to the same church might be easier than going to a new one but seeing her friendstheThe look into her eyes was too much.

    As Holly looked over and saw all the couples, she felt a tear run down her face.Not now. Pull yourself together.The mourners fight in the church. They are raw in their emotions. It hurts every day and sometimes they wonder if they'll ever feel better.

    What is a solution?

    We never know what someone else is going through or what burdens they are carrying. God tells us to share each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2). The only way we can do that is by stepping into someone's pain. Don't be afraid they hurt; they hurt. Let them talk about their loved ones. And when they share their grief, we can listen. That's what they need most.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/kzenon


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  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (8)

    7. Sometimes the loneliest people are the ones with a smile. They're just covering it up.

    Slide 7 of 10

    Cindy walked in smiling as always, every hair in place. She never shared how she really felt. When asked, she said everything was wonderful, everyone was fine. But inside, Cindy hurt. She never felt free to say it. Others might think she didn't trust God. And what does that look like as a leader? Cindy felt so lonely.

    What is a solution?

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

    When people feel safe enough, they will drop their guards. Everyone needs to feel cared for. Especially those who are servants. Check out other nurses too. Those who care for the sick or the elderly. You are exhausted and need a word of encouragement. You can be her glass of cool water, as it saysProverbs 11:25. Then we will be refreshed too.

    Photo credit:© Thinkstock



  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (9)

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

    Slide 8 of 10

    Every church has introverts. They slip into place just before the church begins, and as soon as the last word is spoken, they're ready to go. You find crowds overwhelming. Sometimes we think introverts aren't ready to socialize, but they just need the right environment. Sometimes they are quiet, but they are just observant. Being around people drains them of energy, while extroverts get energized through social interactions.

    What is a solution?

    One answer is to meet the introvert where they are. The conversation doesn't have to be long. You can just tell them you're glad to see them or glad they joined you. A little recognition can go a long way in preventing someone from feeling invisible. One-to-one conversations are easier for an introvert than expecting them to interact in a group. It might feel like all eyes are on her.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/SIphotographie



  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (10)

    9. People who are new to the Church feel like they stand out.

    Slide 9 of 10

    Sarah led her husband and children to a row of empty seats. She quickly made her sit down. She looked at everyone before moving for fear of doing the wrong thing. Sarah had wanted her family to go to church for years. But she wondered quietly if she had waited too long.

    What is a solution?

    All we have to do is remember the first time we went to a new place. Who addressed you? Did you feel welcome? We just have to show compassion and hospitality as it says inHebrews 13:2. And soon they may feel like a part of the church instead of looking in from the outside.

    Photo credit:©Thinkstock/Jupiterimages



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  • 10 reasons your church is full of lonely people (11)

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

    Slide 10 of 10

    Julie took her place, looking adorable as always. I wondered who she needed to talk to. Sure she knew them all, was the pastor's wife and all, but who were they?youFriends? I watched her smile at the little boy in the row in front of her. She looked up at her husband at the pulpit. Are you ever lonely?

    What is a solution?

    It's true, the pastor and his wife could know almost everyone in their church. They regularly greet and meet up with people. And every time the door of the church is opened, they are there. But that doesn't mean they're connected. God says us inGalatians 6:10to do good to all, and then he mentions those in thetrust. 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 congregation is larger, just bring in a plate of cookies with a thank you note. It will dispel any sense of isolation the shepherd of the flock would ever feel.

    Anne Petersenis a poet, orator and publishesAuthor of 14 books. You can get a copy from herfree e-book, True Love, or connect with Anne at herFacebookpage or visit themwebsite.

    Photo credit:© Thinkstock


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