the weblog of Alan Knox

What do you want to talk about?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in community, discipleship | 17 comments

What do you want to talk about?

My family jokes that I can talk to anyone. That’s probably not literally true, but I can usually talk to most people. There’s a very good reason that people usually talk to me: I ask them about themselves and their likes and dislikes, and I listen to their response.

I’ve found that people typically like to talk about themselves, especially to people who are genuinely interested in hearing about them.

Of course, that doesn’t meant that people immediately go into the intimate details of their lives, but as they learn that you will listen (and not tell everyone else), they soon learn to trust you with more and more personal information.

You know what? I’ve found the same thing happens on my blog. People like to think about, talk about, and write about different topics related to the church. Some people are passionate about one thing, while others care deeply about something else.

What about you? What topics (related to the church) would you like to see us discuss here?


17 Comments

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  1. 6-21-2013

    I’m just wondering if other believers are as discouraged and concerned about the decay of real community and fellowship even in the churches small group settings? I meet more and more folks who are just done with the established church. It looks just like the world to those in it who can see and even blind men at the well wouldn’t ask to be shown the way by it.
    Maybe that’s why it’s so encouraging to hear from your folks about their fellowships.
    We continue to open our home for fellowship and God does something different each meeting.
    We seem plagued by the nagging feeling that something needs to be accomplished or more structured or become a big thing. It’s very complicated and it drives me to prayer a lot.
    Do they come for the worship? Maybe it’s the potluck or the social aspect? The prayer or the opportunity to speak a word of understanding?
    God knows. Thanks for your ministry, Alan

  2. 6-21-2013

    Maybe some concrete examples, suggestions, and tips on how to build relationships and friendships with people in our community, …especially when you live in a new area and don’t know anyone.

    And related to this, how to connect with other like-minded people in the community who want to live in friendship with each other, but are not into the “institutional church” thing. Supposedly there are millions of us all over the country, but if so, how come we are so hard to find?

  3. 6-21-2013

    I would be interested in hearing stories of how others are going about making disciples in their neighborhoods. When I was younger we always knew all our neighbors, now as an adult I see that the neighborhood culture has changed (at least in southern CA) and it is rare to see neighbors experiencing any meaningful community. My family has recently decided to be intentional about being obedient to all the knowledge we have been sitting on for years – unfortunately we feel like we have to be trailblazers since nobody ever modeled this for us.

  4. 6-21-2013

    Jeremy says:

    “And related to this, how to connect with other like-minded people in the community who want to live in friendship with each other, but are not into the “institutional church” thing. Supposedly there are millions of us all over the country, but if so, how come we are so hard to find?”

    FOR REAL. Like where are you all and why can’t I find you? After noticing that nobody I have ever met online has never been within an hour of us (except 1 brother! the 1st one i met – who we have journeyed with for years) – I trust that God is sovereign in spreading us out beautifully. And perhaps that was His design of making us a mobile people and spreading out His Church during the industrial revolution.

    I finally am beginning to accept that God is sovereign and He will bring into my life who He chooses, when He chooses. I’m not doing something wrong because things don’t meet my expectations. I just have to let go of all expectations and stop looking to find another ME in a new brother/sister. I won’t find somebody who sees all I see – is ready like I’m ready – and all that. God has a LOT of work to do in people to link us up with each other. Think of all the details necessary to get people ready for ekklesia. I can be patient. But I could use daily encouragement in this.

    And to answer your question – I’d like to continue to use this blog as a way to talk about myself & my journey, thank you.

    I really do feel the Lord has helped me care about others and focus on learning about others, asking about others – but apparently I still need SOME outlet to talk all about myself & my journey – so this is that place :)

    OH and P.S. Alan I noticed you and your church were askers and real good at avoiding “me” “I” “mine” and talking about yourselves – which my husband & I are so aware of and just appreciated so much. But I was so used to being the asker & not talking about myself – I literally was having such a hard time just answering questions and not trying to continually just bring the questions & focus back on what the Lord was doing in yalls hearts.

    Sometimes when I’m around other askers – it can feel like a brawl of who will be able to do all the asking.

    I realize there has to be a balance :)

    95% of the people we come across just love to talk about themselves – my husband & I have tried experiments before to really not talk about ourselves to others unless directly asked…. and we’ve gone days of interactions with some friends and never been asked anything. and those friends would tell other friends – oh we had the best conversation with Brandon & randi and they are so wise and yada yada. and we literally had not said anything but just listened & asked questions. funny.

    That being said…. I also realized that many people don’t ask questions … not because they don’t care… but because they’ve been trained to believe that that is offensive or rude….. they don’t ask simply because a) they don’t know how or b) so many people are so closed and don’t know how to be open, they don’t want people to feel uncomfortable.

    AND finally – I have come to realize after our experiments that it IS important to share your heart sometimes without being asked. I can error sometimes on asking too many questions and not allowing trust to build before I ask deep questions…because as evidenced here, I will open up to anybody about anything pretty much… i have to realize i can’t expect others to be like that.

    so it IS important to share our hearts too and not just ask others to give their hearts.

    Like everything else – there’s no formula – there’s no rules – it looks different for everybody & every interaction – so just have to breathe (which is my reminder to myself to not rush and quiet my heart) and allow the Lord to lead.

  5. 6-21-2013

    Those who are pursuing organic church life outside of pre-programmed services and hierarchical leadership meet in a more casual, participatory and spontaneous setting. My experience is that sometimes these gatherings become overly casual and almost entirely “horizontal” in nature, and miss the reality of the literal, functional headship of Christ actually leading and guiding them. Open fellowship is great, and the Lord does work sovereignly in that context, but there seems to be a difference when the headship of Christ is collectively sought. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how that can be more intentionally pursued and lived in by a body of believers. I recently posted a teaching along this line so it is fresh on my mind. Thanks Alan.

  6. 6-21-2013

    Mark – I love what you’ve said. We are going through the same thing. (Southeast North Carolina) would love to hear more stories of this – and share what the Lord is doing in small ways

  7. 6-21-2013

    ohhh good one David Bolton. I could discuss that too – we are exactly experiencing that & have been thinking of that too and I could use more insight!

  8. 6-21-2013

    Randi I seem to feel a kinship with your thinking from time to time. I like what you said about the sovereignty of God bringing those folks into your life when He sees fit. I like to put it like this: God has His appointment book and it is all scheduled in. You are so right about expectations. I have felt for many years that folks major in wanting to accomplish “great” things for God with their lives…that is not a bad thing, just not too terribly organic in nature. Things that are strong and can stand against the tide or the storm, take a long time to grow. Relationships are generally a slow process, especially after the high school stage of life.

    There has been a huge shift in our culture since social media has exploded onto the scene. People do find intimate relationship through the media more often than being together it seems. I recently read a very insightful article by Daniel Greenfield:

    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-urban-tyranny.html

    I think it offers a lot of insight into how many folks relate now and some of us find this confusing. Thankfully I live rurally so find a little less, but still the younger generations follow the pattern he lays out for city dwellers.

    Meanwhile, I think there are some things more important than growing large groups or reaching more people…and they are consistency and patience and honesty which can occur only when people feel safe and I think the key to that is no hierarchical structure and faithfulness in seeing each other face to face. When you get a puppy from the pound, you are hopefully, making a long term commitment to that little fellow and will see him through to the end. I think we need to have that sort of attitude of heart when God sends someone into our lives long enough to begin developing a relationship. Things can get boring…especially after the puppy stage, frustrating once you realize you can’t fix all the problems and you have to learn to live with what you cannot change…and that is where real growth takes place, flexibility and adaptability without resentment…like marriage, like children…it can seem like slow going, but believe me from my vantage point (70 yrs old) it all goes way too fast. But when you have a few loyal brethren still in your corner, whom you share your spiritual history with; with whom you can talk about anything and with whom you can rejoice in the presence of the Lord…wow, treasure beyond price and what a legacy, what a pathway one can leave for those that follow. What a witness that HE hath done great things.

  9. 6-21-2013

    There are two things that I love about the comments on this post:

    1) You’ve offered some excellent topics to write about and to discuss.

    2) Even while offering topics, you’re helping and encouraging one another.

    Thank you all again for being the best readers/commenters on the internet. I wish we all lived close enough to talk about these issues around a cup of coffee or a shared meal.

    -Alan

  10. 6-21-2013

    Rita –
    What a beautiful comment.

    And I thank you for nudging me to finally read Pagan Christianity. It sat on my dresser for years and I finally just finished it. I’m glad I did. :)

    Back to your comment – it was so very encouraging to me and I feel a kinship with your comments. You are 40 years my elder and I feel I could learn so much from you! :)

    “Things that are strong and can stand against the tide or the storm, take a long time to grow. Relationships are generally a slow process, especially after the high school stage of life.”

    YES! Thank you.

    “flexibility and adaptability without resentment…like marriage, like children…it can seem like slow going, but believe me from my vantage point (70 yrs old) it all goes way too fast.”

    that is full of so much wisdom.

    THank u :)

  11. 6-21-2013

    Alan – I wish that, too. So since I am in driving distance to you – I am determined to make it up to you all soon.

  12. 6-21-2013

    When I first moved to southern Indiana, from central California (to care for my aged mother) I felt like I was in a foreign country, almost. I had some family here, but I knew that I needed friends outside my family. The culture was so different from what I had known for the last 60 some years. Someone told me about a funky coffee house in the Arts district downtown. I went there and enjoyed the Celtic music and dancing, live on Sunday nights…a few times. It was the closest thing to some aspects of the culture I was used too. There I met someone who told me about an after school outreach program in the inner city. It also had a co-op…health food, organic produce etc. That felt a little like home since in California there are plenty of those and I frequented them often. Not exactly a Trader Joe’s but worthy of my patronage. I checked out the outreach program and liked what I saw. I volunteered two afternoons a week, helping out in the ceramics studio. There I met some very good sincere people who loved the Lord and were offering community. I didn’t join their worship community, but came in contact with others that did. I eventually got a job through them with a contractor (I am an architectural woodcarver) and for the first few years I was here, they were very pivotal in my adjustment. I still have close relationships there, but have moved on into a very supportive and inspiring organic church community. I guess I am suggesting if you are new to an area, try finding something you enjoy and volunteer.

  13. 6-21-2013

    I also met my new Russian tutor at that coffee house…she happened to be there working on some Russian which I noticed and I started a conversation with her. She is a lovely Christian and she and her husband have become wonderful friends. I had left off my studies in Russian when moving…and didn’t expect to find a great tutor within the first few weeks of being here…but God had plans for me.
    I think if you can really wrap your mind and heart around the concept…the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord…you will be amazed at what God’s agenda will provide for you. Trust Him, watch out for expectations, they can trip you up and keep your heart open to Him and you will get your needs met in amazing ways…even finding people to connect with. Rather than expectation, keep your anticipation keen. Big difference. Anticipation of His mysterious ways also counteracts anxiety…which seems to be joyless part of expectations.

  14. 6-21-2013

    Thanks Rita. It is a great suggestion. We are not new to our town/community.

    We are involved in our neighborhood that we moved to 2 years ago – we are slowly building close friendships with a few families that moved in exactly the same time we did and have children the same age! (they are not interested in organic Church at this point…. but yet we do build each other in Christ on a frequent basis!)

    We do meet weekly with our small Church who do have a similiar vision for ekklesia life – but most of them don’t live close and because of work/life restrains – we can only meet once a week.

    We are involved in the local food ministry, our children’s school, we coach our son’s sports team each season, etc, etc.

    But you know, I’m sure – there is a major difference between community & having abundant life in the ekklesia.

    I have to just keep going and trust what the Lord is doing!!

  15. 6-21-2013

    “I think if you can really wrap your mind and heart around the concept…the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord…you will be amazed at what God’s agenda will provide for you. Trust Him, watch out for expectations, they can trip you up and keep your heart open to Him and you will get your needs met in amazing ways…even finding people to connect with. Rather than expectation, keep your anticipation keen. Big difference. Anticipation of His mysterious ways also counteracts anxiety…which seems to be joyless part of expectations.”

    that’s so beautiful & such great encouragement, Rita – thank you!! :)

  16. 6-23-2013

    Rita and Randi,

    Thank you for the encouraging discussion!

    -Alan

  17. 6-26-2013

    I have been thinking through church discipline and how it is done in an organic church setting. I’ve heard a lot about the way it is handled in institutional settings, but was curious about some practical examples from the organic church setting, as I have not been a part of any thus far.