disCONNECTED from People
Community in our culture is broken. Thoughts on how God wired us to come together and connect with other people.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor at Renovation Church.
We are continuing our disCONNECTED series this morning.
Last week we talked about how easy it is for people to be disconnected to God, and this week we’re gonna connect that to how easy it is for people to be disconnected from each other.
I want to start this morning by showing you a video.
It was actually done by an author named Brad House, but I think it perfectly opens us up to the problem of people being disCONNECTED
PLAY COMMUNITY VIDEO
We said last week that, it’s as if we have “a hole in our soul” that’s built only for God, but we also have one that’s for other people.
Humans are meant for each other. We’re not meant to be in isolation. We don’t function well in long-term isolation.
COMMUNITY IS BROKEN
But like the video said, “Community,” “Fellowship,” “Social Interaction” “People hanging out together” whatever you want to call it, is broken in our culture
There have been 4 huge inventions that have crippled community
And I’m not some “crazy” saying these things are bad, these are just some of the negative ramifications of their inventions.
1. The automobile…allowed people to work outside their community
2. The television…1st invention to really jack ppl’s time
3. The internet…time jacker again…but gave the illusion we were connecting when we weren’t.
4. The cell phone…Same thing as above.
Notice how inventions like this are happening at a quicker rate too…And each time we think the new invention will solve our problem
“A ha! The internet. Now I can email grandma all the time and I don’t have to have awkward conversations with her about Pat Sayjack.”
But instead, people just waste their time on facebook, or twitter, or much worse.
“A ha! The cell phone!! Now I can text! I don’t have to say anything uncomfortable in person again!!!”
And we don’t.
Which means a) We never get together in person and b) when we do, we don’t even know how to talk to each other…
More on that next week when we talk about disCONNECTED from Reality.
And we keep thinking the next invention will save us but it just keeps burying us deeper!
“A ha! Someday we’ll invent teleporting and I can see my old friend whenever you want!”
But all people will do is teleport away from each other when things get awkward…
“John, you’re late on your reports!”
“Uh…I gotta go…”
And thus we live in a culture where people are depressed and not just that…they’re lonely.
I heard Chuck Swindoll say once that a Kansas Newspaper once printed an ad that said, “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.”
We might think, who would call that?
But ppl did. I guess within a week or two, the person was averaging 15 calls a day!
That’s a full workday!
GOD DESIGNED US FOR COMMUNITY
But the answer is not as simple as a self-help book. This is not: We’re isolating ourselves, find some friendly people.
It’s not just that…it’s God created you for it. God tells us we’re meant for it. God sets the pattern for us. God designs the church for it. And on and on.
See to begin with God has wired us in such a way that we’re meant for each other. To not be alone.
It all starts with the way God is.
God…is really…the Trinity.
Which means he is 3 persons in one.
3 beings in Divine perfect community with each other.
God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
All perfectly together, enjoying the fellowship of each other, and working perfectly together as one…
So, that in a way we can’t understand, they are one
And that sets the pace for us. We’re not meant to be alone.
And Jesus then starts by setting an example.
I was thinking about this this week. Does it ever strike you as weird that Jesus had disciples?
Like, what did he need help for? He’s God on earth for goodness sakes!
Why did he have a group of people to hang out with and support Him, and people he could challenge???
Because he was also 100% human.
And humans need community.
Jesus sets that example for you.
Are you in community like Jesus?
We were meant for it. We were designed for it
Do you know how to really depress a person? Break their spirit?
Well, hopefully you don’t sit around thinking about that.
But, how do you really break the spirit of the lowest of the low? Say, someone in prison?
Take away their wealth? Already happened. Their stuff? Already happened.
What about putting them in complete isolation. Away from people?
Now, you can break a human.
But you can’t the other way. There are poor people all over the world who have no money and no possessions, and they are still full of joy.
But put them in isolation…
Is anyone stopping to ask the question why it’s the developed countries like the U.S., Japan, and the United Kingdom that are leading the world in depression?
Why isn’t it Haiti? Or Mozambique? Or Sierra Leone?
It’s because we weren’t built to need wealth, but we were built to need people!!
We aren’t built to thrive in a world of automated customer service phone calls, electronic check-ins, self check-outs, pay at the pump, ATM’s, online customer service, and more.
I read this story the other week of an elderly woman who was asked about her frequently trips to her local post office.
One day the woman was confronted a long line of people who were waiting for service from the postal clerks. She only needed stamps, so a helpful observer asked, “Why don’t you use the stamp machine? You can get all the stamps you need and you won’t have to stand in line.” She replied, “I know, but the machine can’t ask me about my arthritis.” People still need human contact. Community
And the Bible is written assuming we live in Christian community with each other and not just attend a larger Christian event.
(Hebrews 10:24-25) – NIV - PAGE 973
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Meeting together. Being together. It’s assumed. And important.
But like I said, it doesn’t just assume we all attend some church of 10,000 ppl together and never interact with another Christian. We’re to be in community together…
Just look at how it reads
(Matthew 18:15) – NIV
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
(Romans 12:16) – NIV
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
(Galatians 6:2) – NIV
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
All of these things ASSUME that we are already in a group of Christians where we can care for each other, challenge each other, and carry each other burdens.
Can’t do that if you’re just a face in the crowd.
In fact, it begs a question:
How many people really know you?
Know your deepest passions and ideas…your longings…hopes for your futures…how many ppl are aware of your deep struggles, aware of how your relationship with God is?
Who’s really there for you?
What happens is, we tend to pull away from people over time.
Many of you had it at one time. Maybe it was high school. Or an old church. Or for many, in college, or before you had kids, but we let it fade away.
And the question is: Who’s going to be there for you? Who’s gonna help you process through life? Who’s gonna support you?
I love, love, love when I see, someone’s having a baby, and their house group throws them a shower. Someone’s sick, and their small group visits them. Someone’s going through a rough time and a few people from their small group take them out to coffee to talk about it
All this stuff doesn’t always happen at House Groups, but it gives you a community of people that can be there for you when life hits its ups and downs.
It’s why I think that every person should be at least connected to something like a House Group… Even if you can only go once a month. So that when life hurts…and it will…that you have a community of people to help you.
And this is blunt, and I know a lot of churches don’t say this, but that “community” isn’t here. You can meet some people here on a Sunday morning, but the people you greet with or usher with probably aren’t gonna be the people that come to the hospital.
It’s the people you get to know in a group…that you’re in a community with that will support you.
And community isn’t just for caring and support. It’s for challenging you.
I’m not a fan of sissy Christian friendships.
“Oh bless you brother…Oh I’ll pray for that surely…the Lord is neat…have a nice day”
I’m not a fan of let’s get in a group and all share our feelings about love. Sometimes we need to pull each other aside and say, “Hey…what are you doing? Get out of that relationship. Get your marriage together. Don’t be so down, God loves you. Start reading your Bible again!
So I want to ask you, not only, who’s going to care for you? But who’s challenging you?
Who actually knows enough of what’s going on in your life to challenge you on how to follow Jesus better in YOUR life?!?
Or the flip side of it, and one that never even crosses our minds because we’re so consumeristic, is, not just, “Who’s gonna challenge you, but who are YOU going to challenge?”
(Colossians 3:16) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
God is calling us to teach and counsel other people with His wisdom.
It’s not just about us and what we’re getting out of it.
Other people need you.
We’ve got plenty of new believers that would benefit from learning from you.
And maybe you are a young believer that would benefit from others.
But THAT’S what’s so amazing about community.
And frankly, it’s how Biblical churches look.
This is a foundational passage for our church. FOUNDATIONAL w/ a capital F
(Acts 2:42-47) – NIV – PAGE 884
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(ACTS 4:32-35) – NIV PAGE 886
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
The Church is designed for community. That’s how God built it
Being just a “spiritual person” on your own, doesn’t work.
Lilian Daniel wrote a blog a few weeks ago that’s been blowing up all over the internet about people who think it’s okay to be spiritual but not in community.
Her blog was birthed after continually meeting people who said they were spiritual but not religious. They did spiritual things on their own.
It’s quite intense, but it’s good, so I want to read it to you.
“There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself. Thank you for sharing, “spiritual but not religious sunset person.” You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating.”
Christianity is meant for Community
And for some of these things, you can take steps on your own.
Start being with people more. Make a commitment for your family to hang out with another family once a month.
Or a commitment as a couple to hang out with other couples.
To not just be an island unto yourself.
Make a commitment at work to be in community w/ other Christians. Maybe start a Bible study there.
Or maybe make a commitment to invite your neighbors over for dinner.
There’s a lot we can do to start breaking out of isolationist mode
But there’s also a lot the church can do.
If you’ve been around here for some time, you know we’ve talked often on how one of the major failings in the church in America is its erosion of community life.
It’s that we’ve made it okay for people to just come and sit in a large church and not know anyone for 5 years.
I heard Francis Chan, a pastor from California, tell a story once of gang member who came to Christ at his church, and then told him 6 months later that He was so excited about coming to faith and hanging out with other Christians who believed in this Jesus too…
“But, he said, Francis, honestly, there was a whole lot better community and camaraderie and support…in my gang.”
Ouch. Ouch. The church is getting beat by gangs.
So, the church in America has got to change. And we’re attempting to do that in our small corner of the Universe.
This is why we always talk about House Groups at our church, which start next week already.
If you don’t know what a House Group is….here it is in a nutshell
Basically, each group has 25 people in it of varied ages, and half the night is spent in large group (getting to know each other, fun activities, DVD teaching done by us – not some weird book or concept you won’t understand), and the other half of the night is spent in small groups of 4-7 people
So really, it’s like having normal small groups that a church would have, but instead of having 4 separate small groups that meet at 4 diff. houses, we are putting 4 small groups together in the same house
You can rub shoulders with people who are a different age than you and might challenge you w/ their wisdom or inspire you with their youth
And yet, the groups are large enough, that at the end of the night for small groups, you’re gonna be able to break down and find a small group that fits you
A lot of people don’t join small groups in normal churches because it’s too intimidating to just join a random group of 6-8 people,
That’s like if you were to have 8 random people for dinner, could be cool…could be really awkward.
But if you went to a BBQ with 25 people, you’d eventually find someone you would connect with.
And that’s the beauty of it. You can even try a different house group of 25 people if you like.
We want you to be in a Christian community that you fit in.
And so do the rest of the people in this church. They want you to join them.
Don’t be afraid to sign-up for this thing. Set your fears aside.
Trust God. Trust God that if he designed you for something like this, like we read over and over in Scripture this morning, that’ll he make it work out.
Don’t get caught in excuses. People think…
“I’ll be the only new person.”
Not even close, 93 people signed up for House Groups in just the first week! 93! And a SIZABLE section of that were people signing up for the very first time
People think “I can’t share. I don’t want to be put on the spot.”
Nobody’s gonna force you to say anything. Just come, and learn, and meet people at first.
People think, “I’m too young. I’m too old”
We’ve got people in their mid sixties and 18 year olds. We’ll find a spot for you.
People think, “I’m not sure if I’m a Christian yet.”
Can’t think of a better place for you to go and check it out. Ask questions you want to ask
People think, “I’m too advanced as a Christian to go”
Oh, what a great place for you to go an actually use your knowledge for something rather than Bible trivia
People think, “I’m too busy”
This is pretty counter-intuitive, but when people sign-up for something like this, I think they realize it’s well worth their time
WHY? Because it stands in just stark contrast to how we normally live. Isolated. Alone.
And there’s just something about it. I think people actually even crave it. We don’t have it in our lives…a chance to connect like this…we crave it.
I had a pastor or a large church ask me this week (and this is not the first time I’ve been asked this question), “So, they come EVERY week? You don’t do it every other week or once a month like most churches.” No we don’t. And yes, people come.
Because it’s wired deeply into the fabric of how God created us.
He created us to be CONNECTED!
And if you’re already in a House Group, I want to challenge you to step it up this year.
Find some people in your group, and start doing accountability together. Or make a commitment to get there more often this year. Or, make a commitment to start studying something else together with someone in your small group.
We should all be asking, “How can I step up my community?”
Not, this is for someone else. How can I get more connected to other Christians so they can challenge me, and I can challenge them.
And honestly, into the future, here’s what I want to see.
When this church is twice the size it is now, 500 people, we still want to see 80% of our people in House Groups.
8-9 house groups.
You know what, I want to get to the point where we’re having House Groups all over town, every night of the week…
That there’s so many people in “community” together in this city that the police start calling me because there’s so many Renovation cars clogging up their neighborhood streets every nigh.
And honestly, this is the most unique thing about this church.
This is NOT common for fast growing churches.
Most fast-growing churches just simply try and get people in the door.
But, we don’t want to just fill seats, we want to create disciples.
That’s our vision. To be a PEOPLE being changed by God to change the world.
And we believe that we can really change the world….in an exponential way, if people come, meet Jesus, get in a group with other Christians, learn from them, learn how to really encounter God through them (disciplines),
And then when God’s messing with them (because they’re in a group and learning from people like you)…
They go out and reach even more people for Christ
THAT…is EXPONENTIAL CHANGE!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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