Church in a disconnected world.

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In my great-grandparents’ day, life was very different from today. Less people lived in cities, more people lived in stable communities. Families spent more time together and stayed together. Churches operated on a “parish” model; the church was related to the neighbourhood. Everyone knew each other. Everyone was connected to each other.

Over the past few generations, this world has become increasingly disconnected. People relocate for job opportunities, leaving behind their networks of friendships. Family relationships break down and get complicated. Kids spend more time in after-school activities. Both parents often have to work to pay the mortgage.  Families spend less time together. Teenagers shut out the world with their iPods and gaming consoles. Most people don’t know their neighbours anymore. And churches are made up of people who don’t live close to each other, and who don’t know each other.

In the past, connecting people wasn’t the main priority in the church meeting. After all, they already knew each other and were connected to each other. Generally, preaching was the main priority, as knowledge was scarce, and the only way to access knowledge was through an expert. Today, in a time of information overload, one of the main aims of church needs to be connecting God’s people together. We need to structure our meetings to allow deeper connection, greater sharing and honesty, stronger relationships. It’s not just for our benefit. When the church becomes a place of deeply authentic and connected community, it will be a beacon of light for the disconnected world around it.

8 thoughts on “Church in a disconnected world.

  1. I have also been noticing this. It’s so easy to “shut everything and everyone out”, and you’re in your own world… Though living in the same place for 2 years, I hardly met my neighbours here in London. So strange…

    But in the church life we need to to stand against the trend of the age and prioritize the relationship and communication with the other saints. It’s not “if they fit in my busy schedule” but rather learning to make our schedule around the church life and connecting with the saints.

    I tend to think that even in Paul’s time people were moving away to the city or just “regularly skipping the meetings”, since he says in Hebrews, Do not forsake your gathering together, as some have the custom… It is in our nature to not be connected and dependent on the other believers, but it is also in our divine nature by the second birth to love the brothers and be properly related to them!

    • I really enjoy the point you’ve made, Stefan – it’s not in our “earthly nature” to prioritise connection and interdependence, but it’s a key part of our “spiritual nature.”

      – Kathleen

  2. Kathleen, this is a good insight. I had never put together the historical roots of our preaching centric church culture. And, I agree that because fractured shallow relationships is often the norm, fellowship and community should become a higher priority in gatherings.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Ross!

      I think it’s always important to remember that some of our “unhealthy” practices started in a different context. What made sense in the past doesn’t make sense today – but many people get the format confused with their theology. It can be very hard, even faith-destroying, for some people to shift their model of church gatherings. That’s why you get so much push-back for your writings, even though you are seeking to help God’s people see a better way of meeting.

      Blessings in your writing and ministry,

      – Kathleen

  3. Pingback: Church in a differently-connected world?

  4. Really important point. Actually a paradigm changer! It is easier to “learn” than ever before, and harder to “connect”. At our church we’re discovering more and more the power of being intentionally relational. Belonging and belief both matter.

  5. I don’t believe the focus of our Christian walk is to be artificially gathering with others that call themselves Christians and call that ekklesia. Embrace the cross, die to self, and live by the indwelling life of Christ with your family, friends and circles of influence. You are the church not some man organized meeting.

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