the weblog of Alan Knox

Disconnected Church Connections – Of Authors and Similar Personalities

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in community, discipleship, fellowship, gathering | 10 comments

Disconnected Church Connections – Of Authors and Similar Personalities

In a previous post, I explained that I was starting a new series on the topic of “disconnected connections.” (See my post “Disconnected Church Connections – Introduction.”)

What do I mean by “disconnected connections”? We can often feel “connected” to other Christians without face-to-face interactions. We often feel like we “know” people who we have never met. (As I explained in the introduction, I am not condemning disconnected connections. Instead, I’m cautioning that these types of relationships should be supplemental (and secondary) to real life, face-to-face interactions.

Of course, the existence “disconnected connections” is not a modern phenomenon. But, as we’ll see later, in recent years these long-distance, non-face-to-face relationships have become take primary place among many Christians when it comes to fellowship, disciples, and unity.

For example, it’s easy to feel a connection to an author, especially when reading several books by the same author. We begin to think that we actually know the person, while – in reality – we don’t. We only know the part of the person that is published – and, usually, it’s a highly edited and highly planned portion of that person.

That same kind of “disconnected connection” can be found in magazine articles and blogs… yes, blogs such as this one. Very few of my readers actually know me. And, while I try to be “real” on my blog, it’s impossible for anyone to truly know me by only reading my blog. (Of course, for those who actually know me, reading my blog can help them know me even more.)

While we can learn something from authors, books, articles, essays, and even blog posts (such as this one), this is not the kind of learning that we need (primarily) to grow in Christ. We (I and other authors) are sharing information. Even when we share examples, they are only information. You are not observing the example. You are not learning from the example. You are learning from our words… it’s a transfer of knowledge.

Can a transfer of knowledge be helpful? Of course it can. But, it is not the primary method that God uses to help us help one another grow and mature in Jesus Christ. Sharing information can be PART of that growth, but it must only be part. Example, observation, and sharing life are the most important (and often more missing) part of maturing together in Jesus Christ.

So, should we stop writing and reading? Of course not. Like I said, I’m not condemning these “disconnected connections.” But, it will be helpful to recognize that this is what we have. We have a disconnected connection. And, until we spend time with one another – or until we spend time with our favorite author(s) – that is all we will have.

The danger is seeing an author as our primary discipler. And, unfortunately, I’ve heard this too many time: “So-and-so has discipled me more through his/her books than anyone else.” This is a dangerous situation. If you find it true in your life, then I would highly caution you to recognize that this is not the way that God has designed us to help one another grow in Jesus Christ.

So, what do we do if this is the case? Look for people to share our lives with… and even share the books with… then we can interact face-to-face over the same subjects and help one another grow in Christ through real life connections.

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Series on “Disconnected Church Connections”

  1. Introduction
  2. Of Authors and Similar Personalities
  3. Of Online Friends and Followers
  4. Of Speakers at Seminars, Conferences, and More
  5. Of the Lack of Relationships Among the Church

10 Comments

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

  1. 5-7-2013

    Interesting post. Thanks. Your blog is one of few that I read because it is transparent and you actually are willing to be humble and say things like “‘disconnected connection’ can be found in magazine articles and blogs… yes, blogs such as this one. Very few of my readers actually know me. And, while I try to be “real” on my blog, it’s impossible for anyone to truly know me by only reading my blog” … that takes humility to do so thank you.

    My best friend and I live in different states. We decided we wanted to read Dietrich Boenhoffer’s Cost of Discipleship. So we read and would discuss it almost daily. That was one of the most enriching discipleships I’ve had in a long time. I got way more out of his book by discussing it daily with someone who I know, trust and have walked with in Christianity and actually used this book as a sounding board to reach into our own lives.

  2. 5-7-2013

    Truth!

    Looking for people to share the books with is another great idea!

  3. 5-8-2013

    Vincent,

    I love it when someone tells me that they took something that I wrote and discussed it with others. I honestly don’t care if they ultimately decided they agreed with me or not. The fact that my writing helps others develop community and disciple one another is awesome!

    Randi,

    The great thing about sharing and discussing books, articles, essays, blog posts, etc. with others face-to-face is that it takes the focus off the author.

    -Alan

  4. 5-8-2013

    Agreed.

    When people kept saying no to “church” life with us…. 3 years ago, I just started a “book club” with a few friends – and had them over to read through a book together. Years later, we are soon starting our 4th book. Looking back I can see that it really was the jumping off point for this community God has been forming! And who knows what else will come out of this. At this point, it’s introduced me to new friends (through word of mouth, people I didn’t even know asked to join)… it’s given me closer friendships with my neighbors in our community (it’s mostly made up of women in my small neighborhood) and it really was what caused the deepening of just 2 or 3 great friendships I can see are already so fruitful & impactful in my life.

    It really is a great non threatening way to get connected to people!

  5. 5-8-2013

    Now…if I could only get any of my real life friends on board with reading your blog… that would be very exciting for me! :)

  6. 5-9-2013

    Randi,

    I’ve found that most people say “no” to “church” life, because of how they define “church life.” They’re already part of a church organization, so why do they need another one? What you describe, though, is perfect. You’re simply inviting them into your life…

    -Alan

  7. 5-9-2013

    exactly. I had to give up even talking about “Church” really and just continue to invite people into my life and open myself up….. but like I’ve asked you before…. are we still the Church if the people in my Church don’t realize they are my church? :)

  8. 5-9-2013

    Randi,

    Don’t tell them, just live it. :)

    -Alan

  9. 5-9-2013

    TU for that encouragement! :) I won’t tell them what’s really going on hehe…

  10. 1-1-2014

    I found your blog today. I am thankful and want to get to know you and your church.