Restoring True Community in the Loneliest and Most Depressed Generation Yet
Written by Kate Hilderbrandt | November 23, 2015
This generation is the most connected one yet. Our social networks span the globe. For some of us, our “friends” count is in the hundreds or even thousands.
So why are we also the loneliest, most depressed generation?
Now, more than ever, we need each other. As more and more traumatic events unfold around the world and creep into our dorm rooms and living rooms (via television and the Internet), we need to figure out real community again. The best chance we have, not only for personal connection, but also for being a light in the world today, is by being true believers in true community.
So how do we become that kind of community?
1. Adopt a mentality of “enough,” rather than one of scarcity.
Brené Brown, a researcher on shame and vulnerability, writes in her book Daring Greatly:
“We’ve survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we’ve experienced them as trauma even if we weren’t directly involved. Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress.”
Scarcity is that view that maybe there isn’t enough to go around—enough time, enough money, enough love. We can combat scarcity with an attitude of gratefulness and sufficiency. We have enough and we are enough. This is what allowed the early believers to share everything in their community. Maybe alone they didn’t have much, but they knew that together, they had enough.
2. Get caught in the act of redeeming and reconciling.
If you want to be a part of a community that is building God’s kingdom, you have to participate in kingdom acts.
I love my organization’s vision statement:
“The kingdom of God advancing among all peoples bringing about redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ.”
Every day, when I show up at work, I think, “Is what I’m doing today helping to bring redemption or reconciliation?” It’s my guide, not just for my 9-5, but for the rest of my life as well.
Redemption can be as simple as collecting needed household items for a single mother in your neighborhood. Reconciliation can be as easy as spending time getting to know people who are different from you. Doing these things in community with other believers, inspired by the now and not-yet kingdom of God, can leave a beautiful mark on the places where you live.
3. “Be” with one another.
We are really great at doing, but not so great at being. Being is slow. Being is vulnerable. Being is showing up with your whole self. This takes some intentionality and some serious energy. Vulnerability in community is hard!
The author of Hebrews tells us that being together is vital to our community of believers.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)
Meeting together doesn’t just mean going to church on Sundays. It means talking about life over dinner together, spending time together restoring your neighborhood and being with one another when the tough stuff happens.
What are some ways you participate in true community?