Have we forgotten how to live in community? Have we forgotten that we are social animals?
Last night I got to hear Rodger Nishioka speak about why young people – particularly young adults – aren’t going to church. It isn’t a lack of faith or spirituality, but still they don’t come. Why? What are we – the established, main-line churches – doing wrong?
In the course of his talk he told a story about one young couple he met while researching this topic in focus groups around the U.S. who actually were members of a Presbyterian church in Iowa. After attending one Sunday morning, they were astonished by the outpouring of care and support from the congregation after the young woman was diagnosed with breast cancer. They had no idea that such community involvement was common. As a result, they are fully integrated, grateful, involved members of that church community.
What struck me was, really, the sadness of it. Have we become so entirely nuclearized that we have forgotten to pass on to the next generation (not even really the next generation: the young couple Nishioka mentioned were only about 6 years younger than me) that this is how community functions? More fundamentally, have we neglected to tell people that we are social creatures who, by and large, crave and need community in order to be fully functional, joyful people?