Whether you go to church or not we all want one thing.
A tribe to belong to.
A group to call your own. People who are more than just acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, or fellow church goers. People who you love to be with and love to be with you. People you can trust and depend on. People who share the same major beliefs and values as you. People who believe in you for who you are – not what you can do for them. People you connect with on a spiritual level. People who might not be related to you, but you might even call “family.”
Large groups of people are communities. Only smaller groups can ever grow to this level of relationship.
As churches have begun to regather, it is apparent that not everyone is coming back to church services. There’s a big push to get people back in church. The lack of people going to church and the drop in church attendance is real.
Some used the time away to virtually visit other churches and found another church service that more closely aligns with the kind of service they are looking for. Some have come to the conclusion that church services didn’t make their life any better and if they go, they would rather “go” in their pajamas. Some do not like how their church leaders handled the pandemic and don’t feel its the place for them. Some who are being turned away from church because they decided not to get the vaccine feel rejected and may not attend again.
I believe this may be in part why we are seeing the growth of micro-churches, home groups, and perhaps in some part the decline of church service attendance. This was a phenomena before the pandemic and will continue to be a significant reality for the next several years. Will church services end? I don’t think so.
I do believe that the future belongs to leaders who can facilitate environments for unconnected people to form tribes, to celebrate the growth of tribes, and who can listen, articulate and rally shared values that resonate across the community. These leaders still run services, but these leaders look for ways to connect people – especially unconnected people in meaningful relationships.
How do I do this?
While things work differently in every church, the task of helping unconnected people build relationships with each other in order to find like minded people, takes a lot of work.
I have learned that one of the best ways is through
1) large demographic specific group gatherings with food and guided conversations around tables,
2) interest based activities such as crafting, sports, etc,
3) Community service activities, and
4) intentionally teaching people how to make friends.
People need to “date” first in a safe environment before connecting in a home setting. The more environments and opportunities that people have to meet, the more likely they will be able to find their tribe.