the weblog of Alan Knox

Bursting the Christian bubble (synchroblog)

Posted by on Oct 15, 2007 in discipleship, fellowship, love, service, synchroblog | 21 comments

(This post is part of a synchroblog called “What Would Jesus Do… With the Church”. See this post or this post for details.)

Over the last few years, God has shown my family that we have been living in a Christian bubble. This is easy to do in seminary. In fact, until a year ago I worked at the seminary, went to school at the seminary, and lived in seminary housing. As we realized that we had very little interaction with those outside the church, we decided to make some changes.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, it is important for followers of Jesus Christ to get together in order to encourage one another toward maturity in Christ. These times are very special to my family, and we never want to stop these times of fellowship and teaching and community.

However, I do not think it is good for followers of Jesus to spend all of their time with other followers of Jesus. We are here to take part in God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself. We are God’s ambassadors. And, ambassadors are to go outside of their own country as a representative in a foreign land. We had been ambassadors that spent most of their time staying in their own country… and something had to change.

The first change – a major one – happened just over a year ago. We moved out of seminary housing and into a “real” house about six miles from the seminary. Because of this move, we started finding ourselves reaching outside of the Christian bubble. Since our neighborhood (like many neighborhoods) is a bedroom community, we rarely see our neighbors, which means that much of our time is still being spent with followers of Jesus Christ.

We started asking God how we could spend more time with people who were not part of his family. The first thing he taught us was to not be artificial. It would not help if we started spending time with people with whom we shared nothing in common. Therefore, we wanted to spend time with people with whom we shared the same interests.

The first opportunity presented itself when our son decided he wanted to play football. We registered him for a local team and decided to my wife and I would spend as much time as possible at football practices and games. Because of this, most of the boys on the team know us. The coaches know us. We have met many of the parents. We even had dinner after an away game with some of the boys and their parents. We also started taking one of the boys home after practice.

But, Jesus is directing us to continue moving in this direction. We see Jesus eating in the homes of people like Zacchaeus, the friends of Matthew, and even a Pharisee. In fact, Jesus hung out with those who were outside of the family of God so much that the religious people called him a drunk and a glutton. It is time for us to take the next step and invite some neighbors and acquaintances to our home to continue building relationships with them.

For too long, my family has learned how to build relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are now being called to build relationships with those who are not in the family of God. This has been a long process, and I do not believe we will completely learn this within the next month. However, I do believe that God will give us opportunities in the next month, because He has given us opportunities in the past.

I don’t know if this actually falls within the bounds of this synchroblog. This is not something new for myself or for my family. This is an area where God has been changing us for the past year or more. However, over the last couple of weeks, we have talked about how we need to move beyond where we are. We have been praying and continue to pray that God would provide more interaction with people outside of his family. We want to be his ambassadors, so we actually want to be among unbelievers. We want God to plead through us, as Paul said he would. We want Jesus to continue to burst our Christian bubble.

Over the next month, I will write about the opportunities that God gives us to build relationships with those who are not following the way of Christ – about the opportunities that God gives us to continue reaching and relating outside the Christian bubble.

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Other contributors to the WWJDWTC Synchroblog:

Glenn Hager
Erin
Gary Means
Alan Knox
The Refuge
Nate Peres
Sally Coleman
Barb
Rick Stillwell
Jeff Greathouse
Dan Allen
Barbara Legere
Jonathan Brink
Jason Ellis
Rainer
Cynthia


21 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-15-2007

    Alan … we do much the same thing with my children’s hockey teams. We’ve found it’s a natural place to build community. Something that we stumbled into that might be helpful for you is that taking photographs of the games and posting them in flickr for all the parents (and kids) to look at and comment on has really helped to draw people together. The kids really really love it and it also gives parents a place to point grandparents, aunts and uncles to for photographs of little Johnny playing football (or hockey in our case). fwiw …

  2. 10-15-2007

    Alan:

    The Christian Bubble is very easy and comfortable. I know that while we were working FT in ministry, in seminary … that is all we connected with.

    The kids and their involvement can help greatly.

    I think you taking the next step and doing more is fantastic. We want to do the same.

    I hope that it works out great for you.

  3. 10-15-2007

    Here’s my “first post” – http://gottabuzz.typepad.com/coffee/2007/10/deity-in-the-pe.html – and I’ll add to it while “putting feet” to whatever happens. Thanks for starting this :)

  4. 10-15-2007

    its been so different being at Southeastern. In Maine (or Canada if you want to call it that) a Christian bubble would have been hard to maintain since most people weren’t Christians and the few Christians out there were mostly weird and spooky and old. At Southeastern I live on campus, work on campus, and get educated on campus. The only time I hang out with lost people is at Carvel when I’m serving them ice cream. I have been trying to get to know customers and coworkers better lately. Sometimes I feel like I like hanging out with lost people more. That is probably a bad thing. I don’t know.

    I’m excited to see how this all goes for you. It should be cool.

  5. 10-15-2007

    The “Christian bubble” thing is a big problem I’ve noticed amongst many (but not all) full-time pastors within institutional church settings. On the other hand, I’ve found that one of the blessings of working a secular job and pastoring a church is that I’m unable to be insulated in a Christian sub-culture because I am forced to interact with tons of unbelievers each day. This gives the opportunity to share the gospel with them and get a feel for what the secular culture is thinking, doing, and what materials they are readin. It’s great to be able to interact with them regularly like this, and I think this is another reason to consider at least working a part-time secular job as an elder if possible.

  6. 10-15-2007

    Sonja,

    That’s a great idea! Unfortunately, we only have two games left. A friend of ours has taken pictures of our son as he plays. If he can come to one of the last two games, then I’ll ask him to take pictures of more players.

    Jeff,

    I noticed that we are dealing with similar ideas in our synchroblogs. I’m also interested to see how things work out for you.

    Rick,

    Thank you for the link to your post. I’ll change my synchroblog list.

    Dan,

    You almost make South Canada sound like a cool place to live… especially with the “weird and spooky and old” Christians. I might fit in there.

    Dustin,

    That’s a good observation. Since I work at the seminary, it takes more intentionality on my part to cultivate relationships with nonbelievers.

    -Alan

  7. 10-15-2007

    Alan,

    All I could think while reading your post was “Ding, ding, ding.”

    Nice.

  8. 10-15-2007

    Alan- What you are doing with your family is beautiful thing. Funny, I have found that these inactions are usually fun and exhilaratingly.

  9. 10-15-2007

    Bursting out of the Christian bubble- I like it!
    My post is now up at last!

  10. 10-15-2007

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    Glenn,

    Actually, my family got a head-start today while I was at work. I’ll report about what they did in my first update.

    Sally,

    Thanks for the link. I’ll make sure to read it.

    -Alan

  11. 10-16-2007

    it’s great outside the bubble! we have been slowly moving out of it over the past years but made the final snip when we took our kids out of christian school. it is amazing how beautiful it has been for all of us in different ways and something, honestly, we should have done a long time ago but we were just stuck in the system and afraid to leave. have fun with your experiment!

  12. 10-16-2007

    Kathy,

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    -Alan

  13. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  14. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  15. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  16. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  17. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  18. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  19. 10-17-2007

    Alan-
    As a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for years, it was easy to stay in my bubble. After my son grew up, I volunteered in “Christian” charities–more bubble. A few years ago, though, I decided to break out of the bubble and enroll at our local university to audit some art classes. One of the best things I ever did! I got to know kids young enough to be my grandchildren–everything from Goth to all-American kid to a single mom. We worked together and learned together. The Christian kids there seemed to view me as a big sister and most of the others just accepted me as me. I loved it!
    You’re never too old to burst that bubble. Jesus did it, too, when He reached out of heaven’s bubble for us.
    Kat

  20. 10-17-2007

    Alan – This is a great post! We are also out of the “bubble” after years of having our kids in Christian school and doing everything “church” all week long. It’s a completely different perspective.

  21. 10-18-2007

    Kat and Erin,

    Thank you for the encouragement! This will be an exciting time for us.

    -Alan