Have you looked for a church and ran into this? You are new to the area and you see a church with a church name that can only mean one thing, “We really want to reach our City for Jesus!” Your family decides it is close to home and maybe based only on a shared desire and by stereotyping the church according to what you think the church is like, you visit.
You pull up to the church. You see many people who look like you. You tell your wife “We could be friends with them.” You pass the children’s room and your child is fascinated with all of the other children laughing and playing. Things seem good here.
During the service people are laughing and talking to each other. The music starts. The music is great. The prayers really hit home. The preaching is Biblical.
There is only one problem. No one engages you the entire time. One person says, hello but it wasn’t really a hello, or hi. It sounded like, “Zup du?” In English that is, “What’s up Dude?”
Not a single person shook your hand. No one asked about you or anyone else in your family. No one really took the opportunity to reach out. But the name of the church says they care about this city. The name says, “They care about us.”
Then you reflect and ponder the disconnect. There was a guy who prayed at the beginning of the service. He talked about family and really being a part of what was happening in the church. He talked about really feeling connected to the club. He talked about knowing and being known and growing deeper.
Let me get this straight. I must come to you to know you. I must open up to you first. I have to make the effort. I thought you were the body of Christ. I thought you cared about me.
Here is a question for the small group advocates? Is it really working? As a corporate chaplain I have heard more stories about small groups going wrong or falling apart instead of actually working.
I have seen people get rid of Sunday school and deep teaching in the name of manufactured community. Can Christian community be assigned or manufactured, or is the church to be aggressively seeking out how to connect people in various ways that work for them?
I only trust a few people with the inner workings of my heart and mind and those relationships have been nurtured over many years.