The Denver Post recently published a fascinating article on a new “Secular Hub” – a gathering of atheist, agnostic and humanists who crave community, but not God.

“There was a small group of us looking for the type of community that a church provides,” Sannwald said. “Churches are great places to find friends, to find comfort during difficult times and to meet others. But none of us were religious, so we didn’t want to go to a church.”

The full article is here.

I totally get it. Humans need relationship, none of us can thrive alone. We are interdependent creatures which is why people find common interests, join service organizations, get with neighbors and participate in church. Many people find meaningful relationship and community outside of church, some tried meaningful relationship inside church and came away burned. Still I am struck by the irony of this particular gathering that want some of the benefits of church participation without the “God” part of it.

It makes me wonder if this group of people seeking church-like-community-without-God have paused to ask where their desire for community comes from in the first place.

God is the source who gave humans the desire and need for authentic relationship. The pang of loneliness we all feel and the impulse to form meaningful relationship is itself a sign of God’s image. And God’s image, according the Genesis, is imbued into every human being which is why we crave relationship in the first place. It is a distinctly human experience and a sign of a loving creator God, which is why I believe the most meaningful relationships are forged once you’ve established a meaningful relationship with your creator.

Church, no doubt, is a warts and all experience and for too many people has caused deep and unnecessary pain, but all the same I don’t believe you can bypass the Creator to get to what God created: the innate need in every human to connect with another.