Hi @tabjohn0329, I think it is a very real situation not just in the church you are in, but also the same with many other churches.
However, I’ve always believed that the size of the congregation never quite affects intimacy, but the people do instead. A large church can definitely feel intimate and close, whereas a small church doesn’t necessarily feel intimate all the time too.
If you would like a short answer, haha, I’d recommend that you consider attending Hillsong NYC for a couple of months and see where it leads you to. Do make the effort after the service to inform any server standing around, that you would like to be connected. I’d recommend that if you can, do try to attend one of their Sisterhood events as well.
For a longer answer, I would like to touch on a couple of areas:
#1 - Not Everyone is a “Befriender”
In my church, we have people who act as “befrienders” - basically people who go out of their way to introduce themselves; get to know the newcomer; and follow up with them to ensure that they are well taken care of (e.g. to let them know about the upcoming church activities, etc).
However, it is key to note that not everyone is called with this gifting to serve in this area. Many church goers are like you and me, who came to church to receive rather than give… first. Therefore, it may take a while before you are kept in the loop. I believe for most churches, it will be the CGL who is tasked with this. It is good to let your CGL or a CG member know too that you would like to participate if there are any group activities coming up.
#2 - Not All Cell / Connect Groups are the Same
It is common to consider that, if I didn’t enjoy my time with this group, every other group in the church would be roughly the same. I think it really depends on the church’s system, and also culture. From where I am from, the groups can differ vastly.
I have come across those who are very enthusiastic about diving deep into the word and explore Greek and Hebrew root words. I have also come across those who come to CG to talk about anything but work (“Why talk about work when I already had a whole day of it?”). Of course the general direction / theology / values might be similar, but I’d recommend that you take the leap of faith to explore more.
Don’t be disheartened when you come across a cliquish group. They have likely been through a lot in order to form that deep bond between each other. It’s not easy to just open up to someone new because of fear about how they will be judged if you see all their ugly sides. There are going to be groups which prefer to remain smaller, and groups that will prefer to open up and be as inclusive as possible. It’s all about finding the right match that you are comfortable in. After all, you are looking for a place to plant yourself for many years to come.
#3 - Connections Need Time
There’s this motivational speaker - Simon Sinek, who shared that consistency is so much more important as compared to intensity:
Going to the gym 8 hours in a row isn’t gonna make you fit the next day.
Brushing your teeth for 4 hours at one go isn’t going to make it any better.
But doing it just for a short while, regularly daily / weekly, will make all the difference.
I believe that the same goes when it comes to friendships, it is definitely going to need time for others to open up.
You don’t exactly meet a stranger and tell him / her all your darkest secrets.
It’s that stranger that you always meet at the subway during the morning rush hour at the same door; whom you gradually warm up to and one of you ask the other, “What are you reading?” And this leads to a friendship slowly forming, that you realise that you both are excited to watch the same movie. And fast friends eventually become close friends who gives you a hug when you are burnt out with life.
The desire for fellowship will definitely be great, but give others and yourself some time to ease into it, and you will be surprised where it brings you too.
#4 - Communication Type Matters
This is just my theory as someone who has led a CG of 20+ people, as a sub-set to a larger group of 70+ people before.
There seem to be 3 communication types that people fall under when they are placed in a social setting:
A) conversation starters (people who open with topics)
B) conversation continuers (people who helps the conversation carry on)
C) listeners (people who are satisfied just listening)
It is key to note that not everyone are (A), and if you have a group of (B) and ©s at that table, there usually tend to be some sort of awkward silence at times. If you come across people who are not willing to open up, they might actually fall under ©. Or perhaps you fall under (B) and there aren’t any (A)s around to probe and get the ball rolling.
I just felt that it would be good to share about this, because I do sometimes make the effort to plant myself (I’m a self taught (A), haha) or a member who exhibits (A)-like communication type in areas where (B) and © are in abundance, so that the conversation doesn’t fall flat there.
Not to say you need to go through all these, but I thought that this will help you shed some light on another key reason why some people open up more and some don’t.
If you would like to try something different, you can also consider Elevation Church’s new eGroups system where the fellowship is done online. It’s pretty simple, and you just need to look for those that would prefer to “meet up” online rather than those in person groups:
With all that said, I’d encourage you not to give up, but also don’t put too much pressure on yourself. There is nothing wrong with the churches, and there is nothing wrong with you. It is all about exploring and gradually finding what works for you. Good company is uncommon, but not as rare as you think it is.
If it is not too much, do keep us posted on how it goes. If it works out well, praise the Lord, and we celebrate together with you. If there are issues, we are here to support as well.