We’ve effectively eliminated the front porch in America. I barely get a chance to speak to or even see my neighbors because nobody hangs out in front of their houses. We’re all inside our fortresses, interacting only with people we like and have common interests with on the internet.

It’s a fairly safe bet that with Amazon and the rise of delivery services (food, groceries, and everything else), the next phase of home design will be a locked entryway in front of the door. We will almost never need to see or socially interact with our neighbors (or anybody else) again.

But people need interaction. People need to connect with people outside of their limited circle of best friends. People want to be known and appreciated. They want others to care about their story. And the internet doesn’t count. We’re connected to more people than ever and yet these feelings are only increasing.

Just under half of Americans say they feel lonely, and over half say they feel no one knows them well. The loneliness epidemic is only going to get worse. The mental health crisis will only grow, and as scientists are finding, the physical health of many will deteriorate as well. There’s just no substitute for looking people in the eye, and we weren’t meant to solely have relationships of convenience that exist on our own terms, where an “unfollow” or “unfriend” button is just a click away.

My point? There’s a massive opportunity for the church in this. What we’re seeing is a growing void that the church can fill by being like Jesus. The more time goes on, the more people will only know love from their relatives and the few people they find online who share their interests.

As people who are called to display the love of Christ, show hospitality, and live our lives on mission, we can help alleviate this crisis just by doing what Christians are supposed to do. That kind of love will stand in stark contrast to the loneliness and isolation the world offers.

We can’t passively accept the rapid decline of face-to-face interaction. As our homes are built more and more like fortresses of solitude and as the internet offers us a substitute for the challenges of real-life relationships, let’s be people who fight this trend by acting like Jesus. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. Make cookies and take them to the houses around you. Live with the “go” in the Great Commission in your heart, even when you’re sitting at home.

People need to be loved. Who better to take up that task than people who bear the name of Christ?