Church and understanding loners

August 29th, 2008

Sometimes as Christians we expect people to be at church every week. We reason that if they are not there each week and they do not go to all the meetings, then they must not really be committed to God.

What I have found though is that some people, including some Christians, really struggle with  a lot of social contact and find it hard to even walk into church a few times per month. Some people require less social contact than others and in many ways prefer to spend more time alone or just with their families.

In this post I will make some comparisons between people who need to spend more time alone and those who are naturally more social. I am doing this so we can understand that some people are just wired differently and that they need to be given space to be themselves.

  • At the end of a hard week at work a loner might long for the solitude of their home after spending so much time with people. Someone more social might be ringing friends to arrange a group movie night, a party or to go to a club or pub.
  • If a loner plays a sport they might chose something like cycling, swimming or running where they can do it alone. A social person might chose a team sport as they enjoy the team aspects and the social contact.
  • If a loner does some studies they might chose to do it externally where they can really focus on the learning and reflecting on the content. A more social person do it on campus as they enjoy the relationships and discussing things with others as they learn.
  • If a loner is going through a hard time or a busy situation they tend to withdraw for a while. A more social person might ring some friends and talk about things. Unlike the loner, they desire to be around people.
  • If there is an extra church meeting a loner might prefer a small group or prayer meeting. A social person might want to hold a quiz night or pot luck church dinner.
  • After church a loner might like to catch up with one or two people or read the church newsletter in their seat. A more social person will be off catching up with everyone and arranging outings.

I hope you can see what I am saying here. We are all wired differently and some people need more social contact than others. Some get energised from being around people all the time, while others get very tired and drained. Some delight at the chance of going to church and social events all the time, while others need to really mentally prepare themselves to even go to church once a month!

If we don’t see someone at church for a while it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are backsliding, less committed or falling away, they might just need a rest from all the social contact that most of us find comes easily or naturally to us.