I live and minister in one of the busiest communities in the United States. North Atlanta is a rat race. Everyone is going on with their life at nearly 120 miles per hour with their hair on fire. People's schedules are super packed. Everyone seems to be pushed to the limit with time, energy and resources. People's lives are isolated, walled-off and lonely.
In light of that, I am not surprised that the biggest cry I hear in the church is "I'm not Connected".
If you are in church ministry, most likely you have heard that refrain. Here are a couple of rhetorical questions that I have asked myself. As you listen to these questions I think you will see more clearly what are the real "issues" are behind the perceived "issue" - "I'm not Connected!"
First, when are you realistically able to get connected? Wanting to get connected won't simply make it so. You need to make some margin in your life. You won't get connected if your schedule has no additional bandwidth. You need to slow down and cut some stuff out. In trying to do it all, something is going to get left out - most of the time it is relationships. Relationships take time, work and energy. They won't come easily and they won't happen unless you are INTENTIONAL in making them happen.
Second, why are you tell me? Why do people look at me and say, "I am NOT Connected!" What do people expect me to do about it? I know that this paragraph is going to get me into trouble, but it is important to deliver some honesty here. Because I am in charge of small groups some people therefore expect that I can work magic and get people connected. Let me burst your bubble, I can't. I cannot connect you. All I can do is help create and cultivate opportunities of connection and then point you in the right direction. But I can't make you connect. Connection and relationships are ultimately your responsibility and it will require all the necessary work and effort I mentioned in my first point.
Third, do you REALLY understand what you are asking for? Do you REALLY want to be connected? Do you understand what BEING connected means? Most likely you want all the fuzzy warm feeling that come with connecting (i.e. fun, friends, laughs, and memories) without the real challenges (serving, regularity, vulnerability, conflict, participation, and honesty). Connecting with other people is messy. When you dive into real relationships it will come with a cost.
Fourth, why are you ultimately making the point? Most of the time when I hear someone raise that concern, (of not connecting), it is often too late. Often when a person laments of having had no real connections they do so with another agenda in mind. They are usually ready and determined to leave the church and they merely want to justify their own decision by proclaiming, "I am NOT Connected!" The truth is, you must say something to someone when it really matters. You must speak up when we can help do something about it - and help YOU do something about it. If it is a real concern than you won't let months and years go by sitting silent.
My heart and concern is to help people within the church enter into life-giving, enriching, authentic and lasting relationships. I pray that if you are not connected, you will allow your schedule to accommodate relationships, that you will take the initiative and not wait any longer by remaining silent.
(adapted from a post from my sister-blog over at Provocative Church)