Please forgive my click-bait title and rambly post.
A couple of min ago I was reading this BBC article about the need to maintain friendships and the manner in which lockdown has affected friendships in society.
The church we are involved in has become missional, 'seeker-sensitive', following a chaotic pattern of variable meetings across the month (at least there is some kind of pattern). Over the last couple of years I've found myself feeling increasingly isolated, disconnected and unable to talk about things that matter to me or concerns that I have when we come together. Plus there are concerns about the leadership - not integrity, but certainly understanding, ability and to a degree intention - and it really doesn't feel like the family that I've invested in over the last 3 decades.
So to the article.
It talks about digital contact not being a satisfying replacement for meeting, but TBH the adoption of digital contact during Covid has simply clarified the feeling I have of no longer being connected. And rather than being unsatisfying, and I've actually been pleased not to be seeing people. Partly it's down to the pleasure of a Sunday actually being - potentially - a day of rest instead of another day of service and chores that are different to those you normally do. But only partly.
The seeds of this were being sown consistently over the last few years. We've both had significant concerns about church direction and questions have been asked: to which extensive email replys have been sent which were not especially helpful.
I have concerns about becoming my grandfather, who was *that guy* in various churches over the years for whom things were never right. He would be a thorn in the flesh of various church leaders, never settled, never happy, never being valued, never bending. I've certainly been enough if an 4rse at times (memories DO make me wince occasionally) though never intentionally to cause people pain or hassle, and it's often been when I've been very much between a rock & a hard place. But I absolutely don't want the role of disaffected rebel or 'angry watchman' - there is no reward in that.
So what's the connection to the title?
The deep friendships are the ones that might save your life, and need real, meaningful contact to establish and maintain. The shallower, simpler, more outward-looking we get the more stretched and weakened can become things we do that would otherwise help maintain the friendships. And if you know the bridge/truck metaphore, then the weaker the bridge becomes. I realise that a lot (probably almost all) my church friendships are BECAUSE we're part of the same church, and not because I would choose to spend time with those people of my own volition (or them with me).
And when that happens who will you talk to about the things that are important but difficult?