In actuality, most of the times I’ve found myself part of a new church group, the people are polite, but aren’t much interested in forming friendships. By contrast, at some other general interest groups I’m involved in, people easily converse and express interest in me, exploring the possibility of staying in touch... an initial step in becoming friends. Hopefully, I express interest in them as well.
Let me confess, right out of the box, that I’m not the greatest at personal relationships. However, I’ve learned, over a lifetime, some of the basics of both how to draw out other people, and how to answer questions in an interesting way. (You may think this is an easy skill, but I was an only child, raised in a home where we did not speak at meals. Conversing was not a skill I learned until college- but this is a tangent.)
We’ve been going to a particular church for three years now. I haven’t been going every week, but often. We’ve been to several dinners; I’ve been to an evening for women; I’ve volunteered to help at one event. Every Sunday we shake hands and greet those around us. However, I have yet to make a single new friend. (There are a few people there whom we knew before we attended.) Basically, I’ve decided that after this long, no one is going to approach me to be friendly, and I’ll need to be the instigator if I want to know who anyone is or what their interests are.
I think that part of the problem is the format of activities. In clubs based on interests, people are generally doing some activity (hiking, birdwatching, quilting, model railroading, etc), and are free to visit in between spurts of concentration on the activity. Of course, in a church service, we are all focused on worship, not each other.
However, even at the dinners we’ve attended with this church I haven’t felt a glimmer of interest in me. OK, OK, I know I shouldn’t be thinking about me. Yet, when we were new, I did have expectations that the people who “belonged” would take the lead to learn about the new people. I’ve now realized that this isn’t going to happen, and if I want to try to find any friends there that I am going to have to take an aggressive role. I have to admit that not very motivated to do so.
Where I’m going with this is to pose a question. If we Christians want people to believe in a God that cares about them, don’t we, as individuals, need to be doing a better job of caring than secular groups?