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 and the “disconnected connections” that make online. (See my posts “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Authors and Similar Personalities” and “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Online Friends and Followers” respectively.)
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.
There’s another common source of “disconnected connections” among the church: speakers. Conference speakers. Seminar speakers. TV and radio personalities. People attend a conference or listen to a radio or TV broadcast – perhaps several times – and begin to think that they know the speaker. They don’t. They can’t. The speakers can provide information, but that’s all. And, as I’ve stated before, information is not the basis of growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.
Many people would agree with what I just said, and would caution against the overemphasis on conference, seminar, radio, and TV personalities. But, there’s another group of speakers who we need to think about as well.
Now, don’t misunderstand me… there are some preachers among traditional churches who share their lives with other people regularly – day in and day out. But, I think these are few and far between – not necessarily because of the preachers themselves, but because of the nature of the system they are part of. (I’m using the term “preacher” to refer to a person who speaks regularly – usually weekly at least – to a church audience.)
A few years ago, a young man who became a very close friend of mine explained his own experience with this. He had been part of a very popular church organization in our area. This church is known for some very good things, including their preacher. One day, my friend told me, this preacher was talking about loving others. He realized that he had no idea what the preacher meant by “love one another,” because he had never seen the preacher living it out. There was no “teaching through life” to accompany the “teaching by words.” (By the way, I’m sure this preacher shares his life with others, but he cannot share his life with everyone he speaks to every week.)
So, among the church, we often have “disconnected connections” with preachers, pastors, elders, whatever we call them. Then, we look to them as our primary leaders and teachers among the church. This is a problem. This is not the way that God works among the church. Instead, he works through the real life, face-to-face interactions between his children.
Of all of these “disconnected connections,” the shallow (sometimes nonexistent) relationship that we have with people who claim to be our leaders (and we accept their claim all too easily) is perhaps the most harmful to the health of the church.
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