Disconnect

The dictionary gives several definitions for the word “Disconnect” – all of them play into a heavy concern of mine as a pastor.  Let’s consider four of them:
“To sever or interrupt the connection of or between.”
“To detach.”
“To withdraw into one’s private world.”
“A lack of communication or agreement.”
So, what’s my concern?  To fully explain my thoughts, consider a passage in Acts 2, which describes the lifestyle of Christians in the Early Church:
”They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet togetherin the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their numbers dailythose who were being saved.”  (2:42-47).
These early followers of Christ lived in community, not a commune, but in close and constant proximity to one another.  They did life together!  Their connection to Jesus Christ and one another made their unbelieving neighbors and friends take note and because of their godly lifestyle and influence, others were finding new life in Christ on a daily basis. 
I do not wish to totally glorify this passage, because obviously they had problems (see Acts 6); however, the overriding theme of Acts 2:42-47 supports the idea that first-century Christians lived a life of “connection.”  They experienced strength in numbers and joy in fellowship.  In short, they “hung out together.” 
Back up a few verses to The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).  These 120 disciples of Jesus had been together in an upper room in Jerusalem for ten days.  In all probability, they were together 16 hours each day – praying, singing, repenting, forgiving, eating and fellowshipping.  Minus their sleep, that means they were together a total of 160 hours.  It would take three years of Sunday morning services today to equal their time spent together.  Do we wonder why there’s such gross disconnect in churches today?
Now, 20 centuries later, believers in Christ for the most part live separated lives.  They attend church on Sundays and are likely not to see one another again until the following Sunday.  Such an arrangement cannot foster community and hinders the ability to experience perpetual, healthy relationships.  Work schedules, family activities and life in general seem to separate them from devoting themselves to one another.  Of course, there are exceptions, but not many. 
This trend has brought about a “disconnect” in the lives of most Christians.  Unless followers of Christ take the initiative to connect during the week, most live unto themselves, thus becoming separated from their source of spiritual growth and vitality.
Social media allows for a superficial type of connection, but falls short of the three vital elements of effective communication as described in the life of Jesus Christ in 1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seenwith our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (Jesus).”
The early disciples understood the communication dynamics of “hearing, seeing and touching.”  And their lives were woven together in a healthy way, which caused them to flourish and to grow exponentially.  They impacted their ”world” because they lived in connection with one another.
Just going to church on Sunday does not allow time for such connection.  And yet, because of packed schedules and life necessities that keep Christians going in a myriad of directions, we continue to suffer from disconnection in today’s fast-paced world. 
The Barna Research Group recently announced that not only was there disconnect in the lives of most Christians, but they offered two staggering statistics to support their research:
1.  Regular church attendance is down.  Four out of 10 Christians in America are active churchgoers (or 38 percent).
2.  Most people who attend church go 1.2 times each month (Oh, my)!
I’m greatly concerned with these trends.  I’ve said it for years:  “As goes the church, so goes the culture.”  We need a revival of connection!  People often isolate themselves.  The disintegration of family unity and values draws many into a self-isolating cocoon, where work and Netflix keep them hidden away. 
I’m concerned, if not frightened.  Going to church one day, one service a week (if that) does not allow for lives to connect.  People can attend the same church for years and never truly know their fellow attendees.  This truth is alarming.  I understand that the cultures of Acts 2 versus today are miles apart, but I still say that no one flourishes spiritually when he lives as an island unto himself.    It breaks my heart when I hear people say,
“I don’t feel part of the church.”
“No one ever calls me or wonders how I’m doing.”
“If I quit attending, no one would ever miss or even notice.”
Guess what?  Such comments represent the cold, harsh realities of a disconnected society.  Again, I’m concerned!
I don’t have all the answers for this multifaceted issue, but let me offer the following attempts to help you find healthy community:
1.  Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.
2.  Find a church home where Christ is honored and the Bible is preached.
3.  Attend weekly services regularly. Arrive early.  Hang around afterwards!
4.  Develop the gift of hospitality – open up your home for dinners, desserts; or if affordable, invite a family to eat out with you. 
5.  Get involved in small groups.
6.  Quit expecting perfection, and for the love of God, quit picking everything apart.
7.  Get rid of a potential consumer mentality, and pour yourself into the life and service of your church family.  It’s not about ME when it comes to serving Jesus Christ; it’s about OTHERS!
8.  Don’t compare large church with small church, worship with worship, or style with style.
9.  Make concerted efforts to hang out with God’s people during the weekdays. 
10. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and quit expecting others to push through your self-isolation.  You are responsible for your own “disconnection.”
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