Author and longtime New York Times columnist David Brooks says: “There is one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person, family, school, community organization, or society: the ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen—to accurately know another person, to let them feel valued, heard, and understood.” But the truth is, this is not a “natural” ability for most people, including church people. We know from current research into the state of U.S. congregations that many, many people sitting in our sanctuaries are lonely, sometimes dangerously lonely. They are unseen, even in communities of faith that have a mission to connect people in nurturing, faith-forming relationships. So, if we want to create an ecosystem of deeper connections, we’ll need to lean in to the Ministry of Presence—the Jesus-centered art and skill of pursuing people in a way that “unlocks” them. I’ll draw from decades of experience practicing the Ministry of Presence in groups of teenagers and adults, along with the “best practices” of others who are training leaders to seed environments of thriving connection.

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