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?

  1. You made some really wonderful and important points here. Ironically, a friend did start going to my church because I kept talking about how much I loved it. But I didn’t even ask her to join, and we were already friends. She just wanted that sense of community. But in a sense, that speaks to this, because it wasn’t forced at all. It was a decision she made and I didn’t even expect her to make it.

    1. Hi Janet. Thanks for the feedback. If your friend wants to visit your church, sure. I’ve been a weekly churchgoer for 35+ years of my life and I would never suggest any of my neighbors take the time to attend if they aren’t already. I would much rather they spend quality time with us in our home where they can ask questions, feel at rest in their own skin, and learn about doing life as a believer rather than learning about doing church. My personal preference.

  2. When I started reading this article I thought it was another post against God, Jesus, faith and church. But I did not sense a check in my spirit as I do from reading others. It paid to read to the end. Let our neighbours, friends, colleagues etc see Christ in and through us, this will lead them to God and eventually church.

    1. Hi Iyeh,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave me feedback. I’m most definitely not against God, Jesus, or faith. I envision a world in which each of us spends time, energy, and love being the light to our neighbors closest to us. Changing lives on a micro level all across our great land.

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