I get this email a lot. In fact I got two of them last week. I think you’ll enjoy the exchange:
I know you get this more than a lot, but I am totally lonely! I’ve been on this journey since the summer of 2009 when the So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore book came across my path. I feel isolated, and today I am going to a “church” just to be around other Christians, but yet I don’t want to go back! But I miss being around the people who at least seemed to know God. I do not miss the sermons and all the bells and whistles of Sunday mornings though. I guess I have to ask, after two years almost, how does this work? I’ve been depressed but I do not want to go back to the system, for real. I miss fellowship.
My response: Sorry you’re having some difficulty finding some folks to travel with. And believe me, I know how lonely it can feel. But fellowship is not to fill our loneliness. That ultimately can only be swallowed up by a loving Father as he continue to makes himself known to you and shows you how to follow him. He knows the fellowship you desire and he will bring it into your life as you simply begin to love the people God has already put around you. They may not even be believer yet, but as you simply grow in learning to care about them and recognize those God’s wants to give you a friendship with.
That doesn’t mean you can’t try out fellowships, look on line from others from your area. All of those can be helpful in this process. You may even find some in a more traditional congregation. Not all congregations are harmful. There are some out there who help people get to know Jesus and provide some wonderful relationships. Let him lead you and try not to be anxious. Sometimes it is better to go it alone with Jesus for a bit and learn to live in him rather than try to do that in a religious setting that trades in guilt and performance.
But be assured of this, Father knows the fellowship that he wants to bring into your life. Look where you can, but beyond your own abilities, know that he is at work. Right now I suspect God wants you to learn dependence in him so when others come along, you can find the friendships that trust in him allows as people encourage each other to live loved. It is a process. I know this isn’t the easiest part, but as you get through this season you’ll find it well worth it…
Just this morning I got this in return:
Thank you brother Wayne. This is the wisest piece of advice I’ve gotten since I met the Lord 11 years ago, when everything my bible study pastor told me came as fresh water because it was new and enlightening. I just felt the same way, and I so appreciate the time you have taken to answer my e-mails and that my e-mail didn’t go to a black hole. And thank you for not banging my head with scripture.
I will really be using the advise you just gave me and yes I “heard” my Lord saying to me the same thing yesterday, that I need to depend on Him alone (by the way I did not end up going to the congregation; I couldn’t; I just went to the beach to be with Him). I finally understood what a journey life is, it amazingly clicked inside of me, and that the journey is to be traveled with Him. I also finally understood the passage where Jesus says for us not to make treasures on Earth but rather in heaven, and I came to the realization that the treasures can be life itself, family, friends, a job, a career, children, parents, boyfriend, pets etc. as beautiful as all this can be, and that the treasures in heaven is Him, at least for now that’s what I understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
it is a journey. These things work out in time as we simply live inside the love he has for us and learn to love others around us in the process.
You might also try these podcasts on a similar subject…