There have been a couple of stories from our church where people have said they are (or were) having trouble connecting. It made me think about what it means to "be connected in church."
I'm going to say this on Sunday, so for all Heritage Park family, you're reading ahead, but I think feeling connected has to do with three things.
First, someone knows their name. They can see them in the hallway and say, "Hi Sally," or, "Hey there, Fred!" Names go a LONG way. Primarily because it helps them feel like a person, not an attendance figure, greeter target, or seat occupant.
Second, they know someone's name who is not on stage. It's easy to pick up the pastor's name or worship pastor's name because they're on stage, the face of the church (for good or ill), and have names printed in the worship bulletin or on the marquee outside. But knowing someone's name who's not on stage means they've had a brief conversation with a person inside the church family.
Last, they have a shared experience with the church family. It can be an act of service, a mutual hardship, or a powerful experience. What the shared experience does is give a sense of common ground wherein they can say, "There's Lisa, and she's been through cancer too," or, "There's Bob, he's the guy I moved chairs with," or, "There's Marilyn; she's the person I sat next to when they had that prayer time."
I'm still pondering how to help make that happen systemically in our church. Connection matters, not for the sake of numbers, but because it's in the committed connection between church family and individual member that transformation happens.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...