How To Experience Authentic Community

A Big Mac with friends could be better for your long-term health than a salad by yourself. Data supports the finding that social connection has as significant an effect on our long-term health and wellbeing as diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices (Hot-Lundstad et al., 2015).  In other words, poor social connection is equivalent to the health impact of smoking five packs of cigarettes a week.

It is not just the lack of connection and belonging that is bad for our health. According to a 2018 report, what is equally alarming is that, as a nation, we are lonelier than ever (Cigna, 2018).  Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna says, “What this comes down [to] is that we, as a society, are experiencing a lack of connection” (Manning-Schaffel, 2018).

So we understand a lack of community and belonging is detrimental, but how do we create connection?  We often look for others to take the first step in creating a genuine connection. However, creating healthy connections starts with vulnerability.  Brené Brown, in her breakout TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, suggests there are four attributes that individuals who experience the most fulfillment and belonging exhibit (2010). The four attributes are courage, compassion, connection resulting from authenticity, and vulnerability. 

To create the kinds of relationships we all desire, we must be willing to lead the way with vulnerability.  We must also be willing to put ourselves into situations where we can form authentic connections with others.  Two great ways to do this are volunteering and belonging to a group with a shared purpose.

Want to find out how you can do this at Southside Church? Visit


Written by JW Hilliard, Groups Director 



Brown, B. (2010, December 23). The power of vulnerability. TED Talks. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from

Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227–237.

Cigna, (2018). Cigna U.S. loneliness index.

Manning-Schaffel, V. (2018, May 14). Americans are lonelier than ever — but “Gen Z” may be the loneliest. NBC News. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from