CUDDLE CLUBS AND TOUCHING EACH OTHER

Posted by Mike Foster: I remember several years ago speaking at a church in Nashville. After I was done with my talk a guy in his mid-twenties came up to me and just floored me with this question.

With desperation in his voice he asked, "Do you know if this church has a cuddle club ministry?"

Somewhat confused I responded with, "What is a cuddle club ministry?"

He explained to me that he was looking for a group that ministered through touch. He shared that it was completely non-sexual. It is just about holding each other, hugging each other and giving the gift of human contact.

As he described what he was looking for from this ministry, an overwhelming sense of sadness flooded my heart.

Even though his request seemed a bit odd to me at first, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

You see we live in a world that is starving to be touched.

Researchers have shown it is one of our most significant core needs. You've probably heard the studies that show when baby monkeys are denied physical contact they die even though they had enough food and water.

In our culture, physical contact is seen as dangerous. We as a culture frown upon it.

Afraid of workplace lawsuits. Fear of getting H1N1 from shaking hands with people. Hand sanitizers. Sexual harassment seminars. Pedophiles in the headlines. Highly sexualized culture. Our obsession with digital contact.

It seems these days putting your arm around someone, a pat on the back or a big hug have suddenly become...lethal.

Sadly, we all have gotten the message loud and clear....HANDS OFF!

I remember a conversation I had with Wess Stafford who is the CEO of Compassion International. We were on a trip together and he shared with me how he thought it was a massive tragedy how we are afraid to hug children. He passionately believes it is one of the greatest gifts we can give kids. Wess is a hugger and not afraid, ashamed or threatened to pour out affection on the young and the old. It was inspiring to watch and the positive impact that it had on people was thrilling.

Your gut reaction might be to dismiss this simple concept of giving more human contact to each other. Some of you already have a long list of objections to why this is a horrible idea. Some of you have stories where you've been legitimately victimized in this area.

For you leaders, I'm sure your business lawyer will probably frown upon you putting your arm around your employees and telling them you appreciate them. You might be saying, "Mike, I'm not the touchy-feely type." You can list for me a bunch a reasons why you won't even try to do this more.

All of these are reasons I'm sure are valid.

But the fact is we are tragically lonely. The majority of folks you engage with today will have ZERO human physical contact. Too many people feel unloved and unwanted. The need of that guy I met in that Nashville church looking for a cuddle club is unfortunately not that unique.

The human touch is powerful, healing and life giving. We can play it safe or we can step out of our comfort zones and offer the simple gift of human contact.

Mike Foster