There is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture. In Bowling Alone social scientist Robert Putman writes:
The result is an epidemic of loneliness. Notice some of the following graphs.
Participation in organizations.
Participation in clubs.
Membership in the PTA
The results are devastating. People who are not in a group are twice as likely to die in the next year as those who are in a group. People who have strong social connections, but poor health habits (eating, exercise, smoking, etc.) are just as healthy as those with good health habits but weak social connections. As John Ortberg says it, "Better to eat Twinkies with friends than to eat broccoli alone."
One study injected 270 people with a virus that causes the common cold. Those with strong social connections did not get as sick, did not stay sick as long, and produced less mucus than the less connected group. Again, to quote John Ortberg, "This goes to prove that lonely people are snottier than the rest."
Robert Putnam describes this change as a loss of social capital. The result is an epidemic of loneliness and the depression that accompanies it. Marin Seligman. writes:
The result is an opportunity for the gospel. The result is an explanation for why the "Invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month" works. People are lonely. If we love them in common, ordinary, pedestrian ways like having them into our homes and feeding them our coffee cake, they will warm to the message of God's love.
Let me invite you to plan three parties in the next three months and invite every member and every prospect. Four good choices are:
Systematically and consistently invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month. See if you don't thoroughly assimilate at least one couple or two individuals. If we can thoroughly assimilate two people per class per quarter, we can turn the world upside down. We can do it by inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month. We can do it because there is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture.