Spending Time Only With Christians Isn’t the Christian Way
I had been in full-time ministry for 8 years before I realized it. I looked at the friends around me, and it was painfully obvious. I was so busy serving in my church and being a parent that it had just happened.
I was surrounded by Christians.
If you’re a Christ-follower yourself you’re probably thinking, “What’s wrong with that?”
To me—a lot.
At the time, I was responsible for the weekend services at a very large church. Those weekend services were the front door of the church to thousands of people who didn’t yet know Jesus. And in some ways, they were like the Christians I was with every day. But in a lot of really important ways they were not.
And I knew less about them every day I wasn’t around them.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG
My job required I spend a lot of my time at the church. Planning, setting up, rehearsing, meetings, the unexpected things that come up in ministry that always seem so urgent.
Then I went home, and I had a family that wanted some of my time, and rightly so. I had no margin left for anyone outside of that circle. I knew I had to make some changes.
I decided to get intentional about putting myself in places people outside of the church would be. And not just to be near them, but to interact with them. To build relationships and make some new friends.
I knew that if I was going to build relationships over the long term I needed to be somewhere that I wanted to be. Somewhere I enjoyed. Like a hockey rink.
I grew up playing hockey. I love watching hockey. My kids play hockey. And it works out that we have a local hockey league for adults. It was the perfect fit for me. Something I enjoyed, people outside the church that I don’t yet know, and an opportunity to put myself in a new environment. So I signed up.
WHAT I LEARNED
Building these relationships takes time. That’s why it’s so important that I love what I’m doing while being intentional to get to know people. If it were something I didn’t look forward to, it would be hard to sustain it or justify that time over a few more hours per week with my family.
It did take time away from other things, but not as much as I thought. I spent about two and a half hours at the rink each week. Some of that came from family time, but often I chose to cheat work instead. After all, it helped me be a better leader in the church.
The time with people outside of the church changed my perspective. They’re asking a different set of questions.
My friends inside the church were asking, “How can I grow closer to Jesus?”
My friends at the hockey rink were asking, “Should I try to salvage this marriage?”
To some extent, we’re all humans and face a similar set of challenges. But the questions we ask about those issues are drastically different. I started to think about how we could design services, message series, and next steps around the questions they were asking and how following Jesus could impact their life.
So what about you, church leader?
When you look at the people around you, are they all insiders?
How are you intentionally getting outside of the bubble and getting to know some people on the other side?How are you intentionally getting outside of the bubble and getting to know some people on the other side? Click To Tweet