the weblog of Alan Knox

Disconnected Church Connections – Of the Lack of Relationships Among the Church

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in community, discipleship, fellowship, gathering | 6 comments

In a previous post, I explained that I was starting a new series on the topic of “disconnected connections.” (See my post “Disconnected Church Connections – Introduction.”) I’ve already discussed the “disconnected connections” that we make by reading books, articles, essays, and, yes, even blog posts, the “disconnected connections” that we make online, and the “disconnected connections” we have with various types of speakers. (See my posts “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Authors and Similar Personalities,” “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Online Friends and Followers,” and “Disconnected Church Connections – Of Speakers at Seminars, Conferences, and More” respectively.)

What do I mean by “disconnected connections”? We can often feel “connected” to other Christians without face-to-face interactions. We often feel like we “know” people who we have never met. (As I explained in the introduction, I am not condemning disconnected connections. Instead, I’m cautioning that these types of relationships should be supplemental (and secondary) to real life, face-to-face interactions.

In this conclusion to my series on “disconnected connections,” I’d like us to think about one question: Why are people drawn to “disconnected connections” among the church? So far, I’ve talked about various types of relationships that are often seen as very important among the church, and yet these relationships do not provide the face-to-face, intimate connections and interactions that we need for growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.

I think the answer is quite simple: Among the church today, those kinds of real, face-to-face, intimate relationships are extremely rare or, in some cases, nonexistent.

For too long, the church has emphasized activities and programs that hinder those kinds of relationships. Yes, Christians have always SAID that relationship was important. But, when the rubber hits the road, relationships were put on a back burner, at best. The church focused on information, organization, and attendance. Through all of these, Christians learned that relationships were not really important.

In past generations, community and relationship developed naturally, primarily because people tended to stay in one location their whole life. However, when that change, community and relationship became less natural. So, it was easy for Christians to set aside important relationships just as others in our culture were doing.

Instead of the important face-to-face interactions that God uses to help us grow and mature in Christ (expressed beautifully in Scripture through the many “one another” instructions), the church turned to “disconnected connections” and encouraged others (intentionally or unintentionally) to turn to “disconnected connections” as well.

What’s the answer? We cannot continue to emphasize the “disconnected connections” and expect people to build intimate relationships as well. Instead, we must emphasize those real, live, face-to-face kind of interactions that actually help people grow and mature in Jesus Christ. Instead of giving special time to “disconnected connections,” we must set those aside and give that time to building relationships – showing that these interactions (“one anothers”) are truly important to us and no longer only giving “lip service” to the importance of relationships.

Finally, we must model these kinds of discipling relationships, being willing to invite people into our lives, being willing to listen and learn from them, being willing to wait for God to work through the often slow and messy process of community.

Our relationships with one another in Jesus Christ are extremely important, and we must be willing to show people that they are important.


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. 5-10-2013

    I think this is such an important point, Alan. Perhaps we never fully know one another, not even face-to-face. But other forms of communication, while valuable, come far short.

    I have some close friends I meet in the flesh, and a lot of online aquaintances (like you). But I also have some good friends that I see only occasionally (once every couple of years at most) and others that I might see once or twice a year.

    It seems to me that online communications help to sustain those less frequently seen good friends.

    It’s a complex area to consider, but consider it we must. Thanks for the post.

    Maybe we’ll meet somewhere, someday 🙂

  2. 5-10-2013

    Alan, I agree with the fact that it’s so easy to seem to be connected and yet be very disconnected when it comes to real life and real people, even believers in our own community.

    There are two sides to this:

    1. First of all, real building up is in Christ, in the spirit. This means that no amount of “getting to know one another” is as beneficial as getting together and exercising our spirit to enjoy the Lord, sing, and really open to Him as we fellowship. In this way, as each member functions, we are built up together.
    2. Secondly, we need to humanly get to know one another, but this should be done under the Head, Christ, and not in a natural way. Simply inviting people to your home or visiting others may spark something, but it will not be lasting unless we really seek the Lord’s face and also GO as He directs us.

    … as you all, I am also learning how to do this. We are not here to have “a meeting life” or a “church-going life”, but to be built up in the Body of Christ with other members of the Body, and to be blended with other saints from all over the world. This is all for the building up of the Body of Christ!

  3. 5-10-2013

    THANK YOU for how bold & direct this post was. YES! Just come right out and say it.

    Those last 3 paragraphs might have been 3 of my fave paragraphs ever.

    Soooo looking at the bigger picture…. I’m wondering if God allowed this dispersal of people (the industrial revolution leading to the mobility of us as people)….because His people had become too inward focused, clumped and isolated in certain areas and we had formed inclusive pockets…. and it was necessary to be able to spread out His people and bring His Church back into ALL areas. And now it’s the rebuilding up after the dispersal!??!?!

  4. 5-10-2013

    One of my favorite concepts is “There is no substitute for TIME together!” A 1 hour service, a 2 hour small group meeting, a 1-2 hour seminar, all are entirely insufficient for actually getting deep, real and personal with one another. As I have planned leader training and retreats, I find that reducing content and increasing conversational time together vastly improves outcomes and long term growth and relationships.

    Given the amount of Time Jesus spent with His disciples, I suspect that the formal teaching/training portion was pretty small. Think of the ‘lesson’ that He taught while walking through a wheat field on a Sabbath. What were they really doing that day? Hanging out. They got hungry. They picked wheat and ate it. The got caught. That lesson might not have happened or been so memorable if it was ‘taught’ at the Temple. It ocurred because they were spending time together.

  5. 5-11-2013


    I think this is extremely important: “Perhaps we never fully know one another, not even face-to-face. But other forms of communication, while valuable, come far short.”


    Thanks for your comment. Like I replied on Twitter, I think that Hebrews 10:24-25 brings out both sides of your comment.


    Yes, I think those are important paragraphs. But, while many will agree about the lack of relationships, only a few will be willing to make changes to emphasize relationships.


    I think this is important for any time we get together with other brothers and sisters in Christ: “As I have planned leader training and retreats, I find that reducing content and increasing conversational time together vastly improves outcomes and long term growth and relationships.”


  6. 1-3-2014

    I truly love and resonate deeply with all that you have shared in this series of messages. “Disconnected Church Connections” certainly does describe the situation that we live with in our local area. We’re in a small town (an hour from the Minneapolis metro area) having moved here several years ago. Those who have been living in this community for a long time (for generations) certainly do have connections and attachments, but many of those are governed by social expectations (and therefore not very transparent) rather than by the Spirit of Christ, even when they are “among the church.” Besides that there are so many barriers to deep interactions… barriers that come from all the ways that people busy themselves (and their kids) and, yes, the “disconnected connections,” connections that aren’t all “church”… lots of people spend a lot of time with the media in general. And that’s such a relationship killer. There is so much I could say about this but what I really want to ask about is what sort of solutions have worked to bring more of a “real” church to life?