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.”) I’ve already discussed the “disconnected connections” that we make by reading books, articles, essays, and, yes, even blog posts. (See my post “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Authors and Similar Personalities.”)
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.
In today’s cyber world, we are “interconnected” with people all over the world. We have Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers. After we read someone’s updates, statuses, and tweets day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, and even year-after-year, it can seem that we actually know each other.
And, remember, I’m not condemning these kinds of online relationships. As you can tell from the links above, I participate in online relationships, and I’ve benefited greatly from them.
However, as is the case with authors, online relationships should be secondary to our face-to-face, real life relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s primarily through these face-to-face relationships – not pixel-to-pixel relationships – that God works in our lives to help us grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.
Of course, like I said above, there are many benefits to our cyber connections – especially when it comes to understanding other Christians who are different from us and when it comes to seeing how God is working around the world. Often, these online relationships can even become face-to-face, real life relationships.
Four years ago, when I first joined the titterverse, I met a fellow tweeter named Art. A few weeks after that, we met face-to-face for the first time. Since then, we have coffee or lunch together a few times. Today, we work together, and see each other almost daily.
I’ve met other people online who I’ve also later had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face once, twice, or a few times. As great as online relationships may be, the interaction becomes even better and more discipline the more we spend time together in real life.
The best online interactions – in my opinion – are with those people who I already know in real life. In this way, cyber connections become an extension of our real life relationships instead of a replacement for real life relationships. (I think this is very similar to what we see in Scripture concerning letters. They were almost always written to people who the author already knew. Even when the author had never met the recipients, the letters were sent with someone who would then give that face-to-face interaction that is so important.)
So, yes, maintain and build those online disconnected connections. But, don’t allow those cyber interactions to take the place of real life, face-to-face interactions. It is through the latter kinds of relationships that we truly come to know one another and that we help one another grow and mature in Jesus Christ.
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