By: Crystal Mazzuca
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:36-37) Jesus could have stopped there, but He went on. “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
As followers of Jesus, we aren’t called to simply know, love, and follow Him. We are also called to love others. And to love others, we need to be in community with them.
From the beginning, God planned for people to be in community. He created Adam and then declared that it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so God made Eve. In Genesis 12 when God called Abram, He promised that He would make him into a great nation and that there would be blessings for those who blessed him. When we look in the New Testament at Acts 2:42-47 and Philippians 2:3-16, we see something similar—a blessing of community that comes for those who know and follow the one true God.
With today’s technology, our world is more connected than ever. Yet people feel lonelier and more isolated than ever. Lifeway’s newest research book Flip the Script reports that 27% of Gen Z ranks their mental health as “fair to poor” and more than half of Gen Z adults identified with 10 out of 11 feelings associated with loneliness.
The trends are growing worse, not better. So, what can we do for this generation? What can we do for Gen Alpha—the kids and pre-teens following on the heels of Gen Z?
As Christians and as the church, we get to offer something that speaks to our world’s deepest longing. As people ache for the community God designed them for, we have the amazing opportunity to help them feel seen, known, loved, and like they belong.As people ache for the community God designed them for, we have the amazing opportunity to help them feel seen, known, loved, and like they belong. Click To Tweet
From Hesitation to Hope
With the divisions that run rampant in our culture, there are many who don’t trust the church. As a body of believers, let’s love well. Let’s show our neighbors and our communities that we care. And that starts simply by being intentional in relationships. From the kids that come into church to the kids making a ruckus next door, let’s show them what the love of Christ looks like. Let’s learn their names, talk about what interests them, show up where they are, and let them see through our actions that they matter. As we love well through our actions, their trust in the church, Christians, and Christ Himself will grow.
From Hurt to Healing
Church hurt is a real thing. The pain that kids and adults have felt at the hands of Christians can have a real negative impact on their families and relationships. We need to be willing to have hard conversations, to mourn with those who mourn, and to show compassion and understanding to those in need. Our care for those who are hurting and willingness to sit with them in the hard places will show them that the Christian community is still here for them.
When we are intentional about helping others find their place in community—find a place to belong, where they feel seen, known, and valued—we are helping connect them to the very core of how God designed each of us to live. Let’s help people of all ages and stages step into a place of connection and belonging.
Crystal Mazzuca is a Content Editor for Lifeway’s Hyfi and Kids’ Short Term Studies. With an MA in Christian Education Administration, she has a passion to encourage and equip leaders to impact the next generation for Christ. She’s spent the last 20 years in Kids, Student, and Family Ministry and loves serving both the big C church and her local church in Olympia, WA. Crystal loves reading, going to the beach, and playing video games with her 3 sons.