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.
Series on “Disconnected Church Connections”
- Of Authors and Similar Personalities
- Of Online Friends and Followers
- Of Speakers at Seminars, Conferences, and More
- Of the Lack of Relationships Among the Church