Have you ever said that? I have. Usually when I feel defensive. Oddly enough in my guarded way I am trying to shut down someone who is simply concerned about me. Looking back, instead of being defensive it would be better to be glad for their care.
Together we are all running at an all-time low of healthy meaningful relationships. It’s as if someone asks us about our relationship deficit and we all replied “Yeah, I’ll be fine”
Division and angst broke a few relationships. Being physically separated threw some kinks into things. But if you are like me you assumed sooner or later everything will get back to normal.
Except it didn’t.
My assumption was faulty. We can’t assume the way things were is the way things will be. The world changes. One of the real challenges we face today is navigating relationships in both the physical world and digital world.
You may quickly dismiss this, but it is a challenge, for everyone.
Take something neutral like working from home. First it was a necessity. Then everyone wanted to only work from home forever. Companies found it cheaper, employees said it was more convenient but now, we aren’t so sure. Companies are calling people back and substantial number of employees “miss” being around others.
A recent study at MIT found collaboration improves when people can have more face-to-face (in the same room) interactions in shared spaces. The study observes, “If you work near someone, you’re more likely to have substantive conversations more frequently.” This reinforces Allen’s Curve theory, which states that “even basic conversations are much less likely to occur among workers situated more than 10 meters apart.” This study of over 10 years’ worth of data found that being in the same physical space matters for work collaboration.
Hmm so can we work from home? Yes. Do we need to work in the same space at times? Yes.
What about relationships. I spoke recently about people experiencing “touch starvation.”
Because of the reduction of basic social interactions, such as shaking hands, high-fives, a pat on the back or a hug with a good friend, and many people content to lock themselves away we see a new range of challenges.
“Touch starvation increases stress, depression and anxiety, triggering a cascade of negative physiological effects.” As such, touch starvation stands in stark and dramatic contrast to the perception that social media and online platforms meet the need for community in younger generations. Even the basic human interaction of being together in a room is being missed according to Dr. Brian Wind.
Touch is a true part of community. Look at the accounts of Jesus’ life. He went out of his way to physically touch people, especially those who felt they were on the edges or society because of their physical or spiritual condition. He knew being close enough and willing enough to touch someone was a powerful invitation to community.
See Community is the question, not if it is digital or physical. I have discovered that I grow best spiritually when I am in community. The community happens sitting at the table in my house, one a phone call, watching the game together, talking at church or through texting.
God uses other people to play a crucial role in your spiritual formation. Let’s dispel the myth that we grow through consuming digital content alone. It might work for an online degree but it doesn’t substitute for community. What we need is content plus community. It’s both and.
A church can do this like no other group I know. Churches gather, it is biblical but we don’t gather for no reason or to be entertained. Connecting is why we gather.
Have you ever been to a concert? It is a gathering. Most would say a live concert is much better than watching a recording. Yet, I don’t have any special connection to the rest of the people at the concert. I am entertained and I go home. There is no community no connection beyond the event. That isn’t church.
Have you ever gone to a big meeting at work a walked away feeling like it was a waste of your time? Likely because it didn’t connect to you. That is a gathering but it isn’t church.
Whether you define church as a Sunday gathering around a stage, a much smaller community around a table, or better a mixture of both, we can’t follow Jesus alone. Jesus did not have a disciple (singular); he had disciples (plural).
The call to follow Jesus was—and still is—a call to join his community. Not only does it connect us to Him and each other but it provides important handles for living. It allows us to:
1) Discern Jesus’s truth from the devil’s lies,
2) Help each other override our sinful pulls through the power of the Spirit, and
3) Form a community of deep relationships that functions as a counterculture to the world.
Having said all this. I am so glad our church has both a digital and physical components. Digital is an incredible supplement to physical. Did you know over 150 people a week watch our worship services and sermons either live or on demand? This is an important piece of helping move people forward. When you combine this with community and connection life happens at a whole different level.
We have countless resources and content on our web site and YouTube channel that are accessed all during the week on demand. This helps people hear what God has to say to them when they are most ready to listen and move forward. Life doesn’t happen on a schedule!
Together as we follow Jesus we build and rebuild the incredible community God hardwired into us. LIve the life God created you to live. Don't settle for good enough. Who wants good enough when you can have great?
I want you to be able to say. Yeah, I’ll be fine… not out of defensiveness. Rather out of confidence in what Jesus has done for you and the people Jesus has put around you.
Move toward connection. Use all the tools you have to move ahead.
That is real community. When you have it…you will be fine!
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