Do you remember the popular television show Cheers? The theme song echoed the desire of so many people: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…. and they’re always glad you came…”
America was drawn to that little tavern in East Boston, not because of anything flashy about it, but because of how well the people who frequented the place knew each other. There was Sam, the irreverent one; Norm, the fountain of witting one-liners; Cliff, the postman; Woody, the naïve farm boy; and Diane, the sophisticated socialite, all hanging out together every evening. It was a warm place. It was a safe place. It was a group of ordinary people living ordinary life…. together.
Most of us love the idea of having an inner circle of friends like that who know us and accept us for who we are and aren’t. Strength and vitality can be found in such relationships! When left alone, most of us are quite capable of forming these kinds of friendships on our own.
But what does the church do? We arbitrarily gather a group of people together – who often have little in common – and tell them to bond with one another! No wonder it doesn’t work as well has we hoped.
I really believe that if more people would simply establish long-term friendships themselves, they would experience greater community, deeper discipleship, warmer fellowship, a broader ministry, and truly feel connected to their church family.