the weblog of Alan Knox

Disconnected Church Connections – Introduction

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in community, discipleship, fellowship, gathering | 8 comments

For the last several weeks, I’ve wanted to write a post about this topic. But, for some reason, it never came out right. So, I thought about it… and thought about it… and thought about it some more. And, now, I think I’m ready to write… but I’m not going to write a post; I’m going to write a series of posts.

So, what does “Disconnected Church Connections” mean? What exactly is this topic? What is this series going to be about?

Well, in today’s church, we often feel “connected” to other Christians without face-to-face interactions. We often feel like we “know” people who we have never met. (Of course, this isn’t a new thing, but I’ll get to that later.)

One of the reasons that I struggled so much in writing about this topic is that I did not want to come across as completely negative about this. Yes, I believe there are inherent dangers in this kind of disconnected connection. However, there are also some good things that can come from long distance (never met and never will meet) relationships.

So, please don’t read this series as a condemnation of disconnected connections. Instead, I hope you can read this article in the way that it was intended: a word of caution concerning these types of relationships, especially when these kind of relationships form the basis of someone’s fellowship in Christ.

Can we help and encourage and teach and admonish and train and comfort people we have never met and over long distances? Yes, of course we can. This happens all the time, and it is very beneficial when it happens. (And, in rare instances, “disconnected connections” are the only type of relationships that are available to people.)

But, I don’t think this is the way that God has designed us to interact with one another primarily. Instead, I think that fellowship, discipleship, community, etc. is best experienced in Christ when we are together – face-to-face.

Again, as you read through this series, and as you consider the descriptions and warnings that I offer, please understand that I’m not condemning “disconnected connections.” Instead, I’m only suggesting that these kinds of relationships are best as supplements to real, live face-to-face interactions with brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’ll try to state that clearly with each example, but I want to point it out up front as well.

So, what kind of relationships am I talking about? Well, you’ve probably figured out that I would include online/internet type relationships as “disconnected connections.” But, I would also include relationships such as television, video, radio, etc. as “disconnected connections.” And, I think that books and magazines are types of “disconnected connections.” Finally, conferences, seminars, and other speaking engagements are forms of “disconnected connections.”

Before I begin this series by looking at some of the examples above, what do you think about “disconnected connections” and our life and fellowship in Jesus Christ?


Series on “Disconnected Church Connections”

  1. Introduction
  2. Of Authors and Similar Personalities
  3. Of Online Friends and Followers
  4. Of Speakers at Seminars, Conferences, and More
  5. Of the Lack of Relationships Among the Church


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-6-2013

    I think even within a church (big or small) that people can be disconnected and not even realize it.

  2. 5-6-2013

    Excellent point, Alan. I look forward to reading your posts and the discussion. It could be very easy these days to get out of balance, preferring the “disconnected connections” which come with less baggage and less risk, than the real-life, messier and harder-work relationships with our family and ‘neighbors’ (notice how I compromised my spelling there, just to keep you and your spellcheck happy?).

    – Kathleen

  3. 5-6-2013

    Agreed. Supplement and support…not replace.

    I do think that there are seasons where online relationships can ‘fill in the gap’ for a short time.

    For example, I am so so so thankful for the online connections I had in those couple of years a few years back when I had disconnected from the church institution/church as business… and did not have any places where I could be real about/process what I was seeing and feeling.

    I see the online relationships for what they are now. A passing of information/ideas and also great practice for actual real life interactions & relationships. I do believe the Lord helps me practice wording things, formulating ideas & seeing from other’s perspectives through online connections. I also believe that being able to ‘talk’ more here is great — it’s a great avenue to talk talk talk so that when I am in real life, I can reign my tongue in and be a great listener vs. just wanting to get OUT what is on my heart all the time.

  4. 5-6-2013

    P.S. As I think about this more……I have 2 more thoughts.

    1) I’m always amazed at how truly messy (stressful?) real life relationships can be in certain seasons – when things start getting real and you get past the ‘friend’ zone moving into ‘close friend’.

    2) I also think the online connections I have are awesome because the sheer number of conversations/people I can have access too. I have limited it a LOT the past few years and only really interact with a handful of people online….and the Lord beautifully ties it all together. I would be VERY overbearing to my real/in person relationships if I tried to talk about *every* topic that I talk about online in a week. I haven’t really found anybody in real life that is in such a seeking/searching season as I am that wouldn’t be very overwhelmed with all I want to talk about. I really don’t know if having the ability to do that online is a negative or positive thing for my growth….. but it is a thing.

    So maybe a lot of those who are online and connecting, are online because they are the ones who are in a seeking/searching season and so it makes sense that God would join us together during those seasons?? and then hopefully after that season…. we would go out and use what we learned.

    IDK 🙂

  5. 5-6-2013

    Tcav makes a good point. Being disconnected extends even to our local ‘connections’ that occur face to face. I’ve long been suspicious that the kind of relationships required for both one-anothering and for disciple making are very limited. They are mostly limited because we cannot physically develop, nurture and maintain those kind of relationships with more than a small handful of people at a time. These kind of relationships are not as effective at the acquaintence level and become even less effective as the relationship gets more sparse or distant.

    Jesus talked about 2 or 3 gathered in His name for a reason. Jesus loved John, kept Peter, James and John in a closer circle than even the 12, who were still more connected than the 72. It’s not that the connection with the 72 was less important or less valuable, rather that it was beyond the ability of even Jesus to have as intense and close a relationship with that many.

    Even in the local body today, numbers are celebrated over quality and depth. It’s easy to pick on the modern electronic media, but I’d say that they enhance our ability to reach more and relate to more people on ‘some’ level, better than ever before. However, we are focused on the shortcomings of such connections rather than the advantages– all the while missing out on what should be the greater focus, that of the relationships we already have that we’re not doing well or intentionally!

  6. 5-6-2013

    I look forward to the series to come on disconnected church connections Alan. I agree with tcavey that disconnected connections – if they are connections at all – can take place when we meet together, but keep it on a surface level. I’d suggest that a number of intentional disconnected connections as you’ve highlight have a greater depth to them than some physical face to face church gatherings.

    Yet the essential point you make – about how God planned it, is something I wholehearted agree with. Kathleen said it best (despite her compromise of spelling) in terms of the plan being about messier face-to-face relationships.

    Also agreeing with Randi (increasingly becoming one of my favourite people online) I got the impression that whether it was a book, TV show, blog, forum, each was designed to inform and better shape my relationships in the physical world in which I engage.

    Great comments on this post so far, and I rub my hands in anticipation to what you roll out in the series, Alan. (No pressure.)

  7. 5-6-2013

    Heartspeak – the reminder of the intimate 2/3 really was encouraging to me, thank you!!

    “It’s not that the connection with the 72 was less important or less valuable, rather that it was beyond the ability of even Jesus to have as intense and close a relationship with that many.”

    That was really good. Thank you! This is why He said it was BETTER that He go. He was constrained by physical time, physical body when He was on earth. Such a great reminder, thank you. Praise God His Spirit that we interact with and are indwelled with is not!!! 🙂

    Chris — likewise! (I think that’s the word). 🙂

  8. 5-6-2013

    You know, I would stop writing blog posts, but I’m afraid that you would all stop commenting. Seriously, there’s some awesome stuff in all of your comments. I love the way that you’re all thinking about this topic and extending it into your own lives. Thanks for the comments and the help dealing with “disconnected connections”! I look forward to more interaction on the other posts in the series.