I see a generation who are better connected yet more isolated. Too often our connections are a mile wide and our relationships remain an inch deep. Too much communication happens without the ability to look someone else in the eye.
This is not to blame technology – it’s fantastic and enables us to do so much more than we could ever do. And it’s not to blame a younger generation – this is their world and the culture they have been saturated in. To criticise social media per se is like criticising letter writing for being slow – the medium is not to blame! But we must be aware of how the medium has actually affected the message.
And then I look at Jesus. Crowds harassing. Thousands following. A successful ministry growing…and yet time after time in the gospel his direction of travel is away from all that. Not that he didn’t want to influence the crowd or the masses, but that he knew that true connection was found away from the crowd. That intimacy with His Father came first, and intentionality with the few was most effective. It was through imitation and being intentional with a select few that enabled the message of Jesus to reach the masses. The medium actually affected the message!
For me, in a generation that fears being alone, perhaps there is a need to embrace it. To flee from the many. To resist the demands. To walk away from the lure of the crowd, to embrace intimacy with the Father and intentionality with the few.
And how can the church respond? To grow our influence we must become smaller. To embrace community – not that it’s found in tea or biscuits, or one off events – but in regular rhythms and patterns of meeting together. In homes. Around tables. Looking each other in the eye. Sharing our lives. Praying together. Opening God’s word. Welcoming others.
This generation are desperate to belong. Somewhere. Anywhere. And if they can’t find that within the body of Christ, even when they are looking for it, then we have failed.