Wednesday, March 26, 2014


A woman stopped by the church office not long ago, offering information about her company’s programming. This occurs rather frequently- An insurance salesperson, the kindly Culligan Water man. And this woman wanted to talk with me about our older adults ministries, whether we could use her workshops and products to enhance our elderly members’ lives. I was in a hurry, and she discerned that our conversation wouldn’t likely prove lucrative. So she gave me brochures, received my card, we said thanks and then departed.

But it got my mind spinning about our church’s needs- across this and all age groups- and one need in particular that her brochures mentioned, which I’ve read some about recently: Companionship, defined as people simply spending time together. I don’t care how old you are or what you do, companionship matters. Introverted youth may not enjoy frequenting parties, but they’re probably still on Facebook, gather regularly with a couple close compadres, or play videogames on-line with others. Mid-career or retired adults might not have a bevy of life-long friends, but they’re still game for a running buddy, a book club, or nights out with the dinner group. Older adults also report strong desires for companionship, of course. But given mobility or financial concerns, the loss of beloved friends and spouses, or many other reasons, any lack of companionship often feels more poignant, and troubling. I’ve read of recent studies claiming that elders worry more repeatedly and urgently than youngers about companionship, and that their health, life expectancy and happiness are tied to their experiencing it, or not. In other words, the more connected we feel with friends, family, neighbors, church, the better we feel, the more quickly we may heal, the longer we’re likely to live.

To an intergenerational church, these findings should be important. We are sisters and brothers within God’s extended family; our members’ well-being is a prime priority. And a church as small and intimate as ours is poised for incredible companionship, right? It’s near impossible to attend PCCC anonymously. You will be seen!

But will you be noticed? Will you feel connected? Sometimes yes, but not always, I’ve learned. For starters, some of our folk can’t get to church consistently, or ever. Also, some have long established church relationships they treasure, but have struggled opening those up to newer people. Plus, we’re not the most extroverted church, amen?! Which is great, that’s who we are, and God loves that. But it means we have to work harder than others at initiating relationships, being pro-active companions.

To that end, we’re starting up a couple initiatives. First, after several years in hiatus, new small group formation is beginning. If you have a small group you like, that’s wonderful. Keep building good, faithful community. But some of you don’t, and would like one, so here’s an idea. Several members want to organize a monthly “World Cuisines” small group. Folk will gather at a Twin Cities establishment specializing in one of many ethnic cuisines. Indian, Turkish, Soul Food; they’re up for whatever. Being adventurous is tasty! If you want to be on that list, let me know. And if that’s not your thing, but you’d like to form another small group- say a Dog Park Group, Bible Study or Card Players group- we could handle a couple more.

Second, the Servant Leaders have decided to undertake additional responsibility. They propose to connect more often with church members feeling most in need of greater companionship. This could be folk who can’t make it to worship, but still call us home, read our weekly mailings and pray for our needs. This could be folk feeling isolated and lonely in this fast-moving world, kids and grandkids far away and busy. The Servant Leaders main job, after all, is to care for our church’s health- spiritual, emotional, communal- and as part of that, they want to connect with you more frequently- phone calls, visits, emails, whatever. If that sounds welcome, let me know. I’ll help you find your very own Servant Leader companion. And let’s all of us recommit to welcoming each other and our neighbors more. If we don’t do it, who will?

Grace and Peace,

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