Connecting

1 Aug

Driving down a very busy road, I was trying to look at a text. I had driven a couple of miles, through several intersections  looking out the windshield, and back down at my phone.  I eventually snapped  back to the present moment, and realized I hadn’t been 100% attentive to my driving, the traffic, or how far I had traveled. That’s a scary thought.

I believe it’s the same way when someone I am talking to is looking at their phone. They know I am there, they see me, and they hear me – sort of, but their attention is divided, and truthfully, more concentrated on their electronics. Maybe others are better at multi-listening than I am.

We have gotten so infatuated with social media that instead of  looking in the eye of the person we are conversing with, we have to look at the top of their heads as they begin to converse with someone else on their phones or concentrate on whatever else has electronically distracted them. That kind of gives me a complex. I almost feel as though I am intruding .

We are human beings and though social media is wonderful for many reasons, it can also hinder relationships. We need one another. We need face to face interaction. The words we read in black and white are just that – words. We don’t see the expression that goes along with them which might cause us to misunderstand their intent. We don’t  hear the sound of the familiar voices we love or connect on a more personal level. True, we are busy people and there are many advantages to our being able to reach one another immediately through social media, but we also need the personal, one on one time together.

Our church, offers small groups called “Connect Groups”.  There are several small groups, according to attendance with new members joining along the way. I have been a member of my particular small group for a couple of years now. We meet one night a week for about six weeks at a time. We break for a few weeks and then come back together.

Our group facilitators email weekly “Talk It Over” sheets which are the basis for our discussions. We spend a few moments answering the discussion questions. When we meet, we begin our time together with refreshments and general conversation. We then turn to our Talk It Over outlines which begin with a couple of fun questions designed to help us get to know more about one another. We discuss the questions and passages of Scriptures from Pastor’s message on Sunday. It’s a great way to open the door for us to share our personal thoughts on the subject, or to ask questions if we don’t understand something.

There are facilitators for each group, but every member of the group has an opportunity to give their answer to a particular question or to ask about anything they don’t understand. It’s a powerful way of getting to know one another and the Scriptures at the same time. Everyone participates. When the class is over for the evening we leave having a much better understanding of what our Pastor taught us the previous Sunday – and we have fun doing it.

Although we do have great fun, we also share serious moments. We ask questions that have been burning in our hearts, we encourage and pray for one another, and just enjoy our time together. We laugh a lot. Our personalities begin to show as we begin to see one another as who we really are. We are no longer just another person sitting in a church pew on Sunday mornings.

I attended church just over a year  with casual smiles and greetings, but never really getting to know anyone, and leaving as lonely as I came. I was a disconnected member. We all know the feeling. We are alone in a crowd of people – watching others who are obviously part of the inner circle. We feel kind of left out and wish we felt more at ease.  After joining the weekly Connect Group, I  greet true friends on Sunday mornings with something to talk about  – we really know each other.

I’ve heard it said that if we want friendship we have to become a friend. It doesn’t happen instantly, and it’s not up to others, it’s up to us. We have to become a little vulnerable and let others in – let them know who we are.  It requires a small sacrifice of our time and effort.

I’m in my sixty’s – I’ve been a church member for a long, long time. I’ve served on the staff of several churches and led Bible Studies, Ladies Groups, Prayer Meetings, Seminars and many other church events. Connect Groups are not the same. They are unique and personal. I love being able to be a part of my church in this way.

Connecting face to face is important  and vital to us. Nothing will ever replace a friend with skin on talking to us face to face in a room full of mutual friends.

 

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