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, the “disconnected connections” that we make online, and the “disconnected connections” we have with various types of speakers. (See my posts “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Authors and Similar Personalities,” “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Online Friends and Followers,” and “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Speakers at Seminars, Conferences, and More” 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.
In this conclusion to my series on “disconnected connections,” I’d like us to think about one question: Why are people drawn to “disconnected connections” among the church? So far, I’ve talked about various types of relationships that are often seen as very important among the church, and yet these relationships do not provide the face-to-face, intimate connections and interactions that we need for growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.
I think the answer is quite simple: Among the church today, those kinds of real, face-to-face, intimate relationships are extremely rare or, in some cases, nonexistent.
For too long, the church has emphasized activities and programs that hinder those kinds of relationships. Yes, Christians have always SAID that relationship was important. But, when the rubber hits the road, relationships were put on a back burner, at best. The church focused on information, organization, and attendance. Through all of these, Christians learned that relationships were not really important.
In past generations, community and relationship developed naturally, primarily because people tended to stay in one location their whole life. However, when that change, community and relationship became less natural. So, it was easy for Christians to set aside important relationships just as others in our culture were doing.
Instead of the important face-to-face interactions that God uses to help us grow and mature in Christ (expressed beautifully in Scripture through the many “one another” instructions), the church turned to “disconnected connections” and encouraged others (intentionally or unintentionally) to turn to “disconnected connections” as well.
What’s the answer? We cannot continue to emphasize the “disconnected connections” and expect people to build intimate relationships as well. Instead, we must emphasize those real, live, face-to-face kind of interactions that actually help people grow and mature in Jesus Christ. Instead of giving special time to “disconnected connections,” we must set those aside and give that time to building relationships – showing that these interactions (“one anothers”) are truly important to us and no longer only giving “lip service” to the importance of relationships.
Finally, we must model these kinds of discipling relationships, being willing to invite people into our lives, being willing to listen and learn from them, being willing to wait for God to work through the often slow and messy process of community.
Our relationships with one another in Jesus Christ are extremely important, and we must be willing to show people that they are important.
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