Programs Can’t Replace Relationship
If you haven’t learned this about me by now, you should know that I am intrinsically averse to the concept of replacing one-on-one connection with organizational participation. For example, when a Jesus follower gets to know a neighbor and begins to truly care about the status of their neighbor’s soul, the default solution is to invite the neighbor to church. What the caring person has unwittingly done is to bypass the expression of their personal care and instead attempts to introduce the recipient to an organization of people who have spent zero time getting to know her.
Even if you believe that the church service is a safe place of love (which I don’t), the pastor and music team and ushers have never met the neighbor. They haven’t heard her story. They don’t know her need. They haven’t seen the weary look on her face when her significant other walked out. They have no skin in the game. And she knows it. Or she learns it very quickly.
When we pass off a person to a foreign group, we declare that we are not responsible. And sometimes we really aren’t or shouldn’t be. There are situations when the person in need is a danger to the first person who cares. Maybe a lack of spiritual maturity or a past addiction make the one-on-one connection unwise. Those situations happen frequently.
But we each bear a responsibility to be the light. We were never told to bring the lost to the light. We were told that we are the light. If God is in us then he has empowered us to be salt and light. And if we care, then we are in a unique position to love someone who needs it.
The church program can never replace a truly interested person willing to make and maintain some sort of connection. Human connection is God’s way. It’s His preferred path. That’s why He told individual people and not just the nation of Israel “you are the light of the world.”
How much more could your neighbor benefit from a relationship with you than with your church?