By Ryan Stockstrom

Harvest Fellowship Church

Do you remember what it was like when you were a kid and it was recess time?  A group of friends gather to play a game; you know kickball or maybe some basketball.  And two kids would start the process by saying, “I’m captain!” And then they started to do the most dreaded thing on the elementary lawn—pick teams.  Well, if you were an athletic kid, getting picked regularly was kind of a no-brainer, you were always first or second.  But, if you hadn’t quite grown into your young person frame yet, well, it might have been a different story.  And it was so humiliating if you were the last to be picked! Anyone remember that feeling?

I believe we all have that desire within us to fit in.  To belong.  To have a group of people that call you their own.  

In life, we ask questions like: Who is my tribe?  Does anyone care about me?  Who will I turn to in times of difficulty, or in times of rejoicing?  When I have big life moments—who is going to celebrate with me?

The truth is: you could be in a crowd and still feel alone, and that’s painful.  It’s hard just being alone. 

I want to propose a solution: consider joining a local church family.  Now…before you instantly write me off…consider this Harvard study: They concluded that after studying a large group of people for more than a decade, of those who attended church at least once a week, 68 percent of women, and 33 percent of men, were less likely to die from what they termed “deaths of despair”—which included suicide, deaths from poisoning, as well as liver diseases and cirrhosis.  More than 2/3 for women, and 1/3 for men.  That is an amazing stat.  “The study authors noted that religious participation may serve as an important antidote to despair and an asset for sustaining a sense of hope and meaning. They also wrote that religion may be associated with strengthened psychosocial resilience by fostering a sense of peace and positive outlook, and promoting social connectedness.” Source:

Maybe you’ve tried church, and you were not treated well.  I’m sorry if that was your experience.  There is no ‘perfect’ church.  Churches are made up of imperfect people, seeking the perfect God.  But, there are good ones who will meet you where you are at, and join with you in your life and walk with God (even if you’re not quite sure about God yet).  

I once went to a restaurant where the the food was mediocre, the waitress was rude, and the food cost far more than the value of what I ate.  That was a bad experience.  But, I still eat at restaurants.  If your church experience was less than stellar, try again.  I believe the benefits of belonging will far outweigh the past negative experiences you may have had.  We need to connect with people.  And connecting around worship with other people, is a powerful experience.