What if I told you we were doing it all wrong?

We see changes in our culture and it is freaking us out

It has been written and said that we are living in a post-Christian culture. A post-Christian culture can be defined as “a culture where the Christian faith and worldview no longer has a dominant influence in society.” Many of us were brought up in a world where there was common ground when it comes to absolute truth and morality. That is definitely not the case any more. The problem is the way in which Christians are responding to the changing culture. Out of fear and insecurity about the loss we are experiencing we have become angry and have begun to fight a culture war.

We need to understand what is going on beneath the surface in the hearts and minds of the people all around us

What we need to do is stop and realize that the arguments we are having are, for the most part, symptoms of something much deeper. Let’s take sexuality for example. Many Christians are shocked regarding how our culture’s view of sexuality has changed. So, what do we do? We will argue with people (very rarely in person) about the issue of sexuality. What we normally find is that our arguments have very little power to change anyone’s mind. Why do you think that is true?

The reason that it is true is due to the fact that their world views have completely changed. Our culture’s view of truth, gender, and morality have changed massively over the years. Think of it this way, we are arguing with people about the software when the real problem is the hardware. It might just be possible that our “conversations” are having little impact because they are not going deep enough.

We need to go beyond throwing truth grenades and look to build relationships

So what do we do? One main idea that I keep expressing time and time again is that we need to build actual relationships. We have to give up the idea that the hard hitting meme we post or the political rant is going to make any difference. All that it is going to do is push people away and make it less likely that they will ever come to know the Truth personally.

Imagine this for a moment. Christians, working hard to build old-fashioned relationships with people who are very different from them. Listening. Showing genuine empathy. Asking lots of questions. Being open to the idea that we can learn from others who come from very different backgrounds. It is in the context of a relationship that we can go beyond the surface and talk about the basis, or the foundation, for what we say we believe. The online post or rant is easy, and if we are honest, it feels good to throw out an occasional truth grenade and pretend that we actually accomplished something positive. To go deeper in relationship will come about only when we love people more than we love winning an argument. But the question we are faced with is this, will we take the time, get out of our comfort zone, and actually build relationships with people very different from us?

I Feel Disconnected From Meaningful Relationships In The Church

One of the things I deeply desire is to see people build meaningful relationships within the church where I pastor. Hopefully by now we all realize that church is much more than a Sunday morning event. Church consists of people who are deeply committed to Christ and to one another. So what are some practical steps you can take to build deep relationships in the church?

You Must Recognize Your Need For Relationships

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 we read this from the apostle Paul, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

Paul knew that being a part of the church involved sharing his life with others. It does not matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert. The bottom-line is that we all need brothers and sisters in the church to love, challenge, and encourage us.

You Will Need To Re-prioritize Your Busy Life

“Busyness is like sin: kill it, or it will be killing you.” -Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem

Busyness is one of the main barriers when it comes to building deep relationships in the church. What we can’t do is keep the status quo, running at full speed with no margin, and then expect to add in meaningful relationships. Most likely you are going to have to stop doing something you are currently doing so that you have time to build relationships.

Why not stop right now and ask the question, what do I need to stop doing so that I can get to know people in my church on a deeper level?

You Should Join A Life Group

Maybe your church calls it something else (Small Groups, Missional Communities, Gospel Communities, Cell Groups, Home Groups, etc.). Life Groups are geared to help people develop relationships with the express purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ. You might argue by saying that you can build relationships without joining a Life Group. My question for you is this, how is that working for you? I believe it is helpful to make the commitment to being a part of a group on a regular basis.

You Must Be Willing To Deal With The Discomfort Of Getting To Know People That Are Different Than You

Maybe you’ve had a bad experience(s) when it comes to building relationships in the church. Perhaps you joined a Life Group before and it did not go the way you hoped. When you think about Jesus’ Life Group (his disciples) you are quickly reminded of how incredibly dysfunctional they were. Think about how many times Peter said something that offended Thomas (or one of the other disciples). Think about the Sons of Zebedee asking to be the greatest and granted the privilege of sitting at the right hand of Jesus in heaven. Talk about hurting the feelings of others. It was their love for God and for each other that kept them together even in the middle of disagreements and relational challenges.

You Should Invite People Over For Meals

Here is something I have noticed over my many years of leading Life Groups. It’s possible for the Life Group to begin to feel like just another weekly meeting. You get together to study, pray and eat some food and then live life on your own for the rest of the week. To keep your Life Group from feeling like a meeting I would suggest you begin having people over for meals, or meet them for breakfast or lunch. These little steps will go along way when it comes to helping us develop meaningful relationships in the church.