As a pastor, I've heard so many stories from people who are trying to connect with God. My guess is you've got a story about trying to connect with God too, and maybe not being able to.
I've heard countless stories from Christians, people who are ‘spiritual' but who are not sure what that means, people who follow other faiths and atheists and agnostics who used to believe but stopped believing because they couldn't connect.
My guess is the main reason you're even reading this post is because you want to connect more closely with God.
The truth is, almost everyone does.
The challenge is, most people—including Christians— aren't exactly sure how to grow spiritually.
While this list isn't scientific, here's what I have come to see as the top 5 reasons people don't feel connected to God. Not all of them may be true in every case, but my guess is we've all be caught up in one of them at one time or another:
1. People are not sure what they mean by “God.” In an age where the term ‘God' is used to to describe everything from a Higher Power, to a Universal Life Force, to a term to describe the object of worship in many world religions, people aren't clear on what they mean by God. Add to that the post-modern tendency to define God personally and eclectically (this is who I think God is and I've customized the concept to suit me), and the term “God” ends up meaning so many different things to so many different people. It's difficult to connect personally with an impersonal God. One of the refreshing (but challenging) things about Christianity is that God is not defined as an idea, or a concept, but as a Person, revealed ultimately in Jesus Christ.
2. People aren't sure how connecting to God actually works. Even if you believe God is personal, and even if you believe that God is revealed in Jesus, how exactly do you connect to him? In our next series, called Pivot, we'll look at 5 thing that anyone can do that will move you closer to God. It involves reading your bible and praying, but it's more than that too. There are clear ways to draw closer, it's just that many people haven't connected the dots. Hopefully this series will help us all do that.
3. People have no one to share spiritual questions or experiences with. In a world that has never been better connected, isolation is ironically a persistent problem. Even people who have great friendships (believe it or not, many people do not) still find that they really don't connect spiritually with anyone. Who can you have a spiritual conversation with? When that's missing in your life, it becomes really difficult to grow, in large measure because God designed us to be in community where those discussions take place. And while Sunday morning services play a key role in people's spiritual development, if Sundays are all you do, then Sundays are all you get. That's why we've created other environments like Alpha and GroupLink where deeper relationships can develop and you can grow even closer to God.
4. Faith hasn't translated to regular action. So what is faith? Is it a belief? An idea? A moral code? Personally living out what you believe actually connects you more deeply with God.
5. People don't know how to find God in life's toughest moments. Let's face it, life isn't easy. And people often equate the presence of difficulty with the absence of God. But is that true? One of the reasons people don't grow spiritually is because they don't know where to look for God in the crises. Pivotal circumstances never leave people neutral; they either lean into God or they lean away from him. Again, in Pivot, we'll look deeply into the jaws of life's most difficult moments to discover that not only do people find God, but many actually grow in the midst of crisis.
Got a friend struggling with any one of these five issues? Text them right now, talk to them at work this week, give em a call, or invite them to attend church with you this weekend.
My hope? That connecting with God doesn't need to be nearly the mystery it is to so many. So I'm really looking forward to the next five weeks at Connexus!
In the meantime, why do you think people don't feel connected to God? What would you add to this list?