Raising the Cross

One glaring issue urgently demanding clarity today: an epidemic of loneliness and the way it ravages its victims. In this report, my hope is to help you understand:
  • the extent of the loneliness epidemic,
  • the results of this isolation in their lives and in our society,
  • the deep desire for connection that is going unmet,
  • and how we can work together to end the loneliness epidemic by uniting people in faith.

The extent of the epidemic: more than a billion people — roughly ¼ of the global population, is struggling with loneliness. And while we often focus on loneliness in seniors, it’s not the old folks who are hardest hit; rather younger adults are more likely to suffer from loneliness.

And it’s not surprising when you consider the “me first” attitudes of the current day. A focus on self has led to broken relationships with others and a dysfunctional sexual ethic that leads to unwanted pregnancy and abortion.

(If abortion were counted as a cause of death in official statistics, abortion would have accounted for 40% of deaths worldwide, topping infectious disease and cancer combined. 44.6 million abortions were performed worldwide last year — more than the combined number of people killed by all other leading causes of death!)

The results of constant loneliness are dire in the victims: according to the US Surgeon General, loneliness associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death.
  • Social isolation increases the risk of premature death by 26%-29%.
  • It increases the risk of heart disease by 29%
  • And the risk of stroke increases by 32%.

If loneliness were a virus, scientists would be hard at work on a life-saving vaccine because its symptoms are devastating!

You and I have the answer to this loneliness epidemic: when people are brought into relationship with Christ and community with other believers, loneliness vanishes.

The desire for connection. Surveys and research show that people are seeking out spirituality — they believe there is something bigger than themselves and something eternal.
  • 83% of Americans believe they have a soul.
  • 71% believe in heaven.
  • 61% believe in hell.
  • 60% believe in both heaven and hell.

At the same time, the statistics show a decline in religious and church attendance. People seem to be looking for connection to God outside of the very place where they may find it!

70% of Americans say they are spiritual people — while 21% say they are “spiritual but not religious.” Most of those who are spiritual but not religious say they see spirits or spiritual energy in nature — “They turned the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25).

Further, most of the “spiritual but not religious” are down on religion in general, saying it causes division and intolerance.

What can we do to draw the lost to Jesus if this is their mindset?
  • We can focus on the search for connection to God, which is evident across most of the population. Religious and non-religious people are trying to make a connection to something greater than themselves, and they need a connection to a community as well.

Jesus encouraged us, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
  • In our outreach and our teaching, we demonstrate wisdom by speaking to the heartfelt needs of the lonely about the way to connect with the Divine Mystery in Christ and the presence and comfort of God’s Spirit and power. We dispel the fears of the “spiritual but not religious” that our religion is intolerant by opening our doors and hearts to them!
  • And we can prepare our congregations to be faithful friends to those who come through the doors, creating a community of hopeful acceptance that combats loneliness as you and I, as spiritual leaders and teachers, explain the whole Gospel and bring the flock ever closer toward walking with Jesus and following His example.

We can walk this line, help to end the epidemic of loneliness, and spark revival wherever we are called to minister!

Please access the City Harvest Network website for more information on this and other important topics, timely encouragement, and upcoming ministry opportunities.

I pray the research and analysis in this Cultural Clarity Report provide you with valuable information as you pursue God’s call and reach out in your own mission field. Thank you for being a friend and partner in ministry!
Yours for the Harvest,

Dr. Rod Parsley

Founder & General Overseer