My article is a day late because I went to Kansas Monday and didn’t get home until Tuesday afternoon.
I went to see a fellow pastor who’d been a good friend of mine while we lived in Wichita. Last December, this friend suffered an emotional breakdown and only recently returned to full-time status at his church.
He explained that one of the factors in his breakdown was the lack of close friends to talk with.
For several years, the two of us met at least once a month for breakfast to discuss life & ministry. We also met quarterly, usually for an entire day, with three other pastors. However, around the time I moved to Harlan, two of the other pastors also moved to other churches, while the third got into another line of work. This left my friend all alone.
According to a study by Duke University, loneliness in America is rampant.
The researchers found that over the past two decades, Americans’ circle of close confidants has shrunk dramatically. In addition, the number of people who say they have no one with whom to discuss important matters has more than doubled, to nearly 25%.
Researchers were surprised by the large change. Typically, you wouldn’t expect such dramatic change in such a relative short period of time.
What’s going on?
The researchers suggest four things:
Question: Who do you talk to? Do you have somebody you can (and do) confide in, or do you keep everything bottled up?
One of our strategic goals at First Baptist is to substantially increase the number of small groups in the church. A small group is defined a group of 8-12 persons (4-6 couples) who meet regularly for Bible study, prayer, fellowship and serving. One reason for this is to create an environment for deeper friendships among brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Bible encourages friendship. Probably the best known is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”