Online church is not a substitute for real relationships... it enhances, streamlines, improves, adds fuel to the physical relationships you already have, and gives you the opportunity to meet others across the globe in authentic online community. It's both.
Whether talking about Online Church or a Megachurch, give me 5 friends I can do life with and share a mission with and we can take on the world.... literally. My "church" starts with the 5 people closest to me (not in a pew) but in my 24/7 life. Here's what I believe:
- Intentionality matters in what we believe and in our relationships. When my wife and I meet with our closest friends, they are "the church" to me.... They challenge me, hold me accountable, want what's best for me, and push me in my faith.
- Online church can be the glue that keeps these 5 friends focused, on mission, encouraged, able to collaborate with others, share teaching, and more.
- A physical church can be the glue that keeps these 5 friends focused, on mission, encouraged, able to collaborate with others, share teaching, and more.
- Yep, I just repeated myself.
- A big physical church becomes small with these 5 friends.
- I love the connection to a larger 'church' but experience the richest parts of life and faith in my 'small church' of close friends.
- The church needs a revolution. Scores of people believe in God but don't see the need for church. We can and must do better. Love God but don't care for "the church"? Start by 'being' what you think the 'church' should be and invite some friends along the way...
Wherever you are in the globe, you can start changing your community with a few friends. Our vision is to help resource you, bring teaching, services, strategies for local missions, and anything that can help you take your next step toward Christ.... online. Let's connect, learn from each other, and share as we make it happen!
Typically we have one boss, one God, and one romance. All the other people in our lives tend to fall into this grey area of "friends".... The ways we connect with others create the framework we will live our lives. As Jason Miller discussed this past week, there are some dysfunctional "slips" in our lives that can prevent us from getting real traction in our friendships:
SLIP #1: Trying to have friends without being a friend
- Our fears and insecurites of "being alone" or "not having the right/cool friends" can cause us to stockpile people around us so we don't feel alone
- Our "friends" are really commodities to us... we're using them to meet our wants or needs
- People in our lives not filling a need are easily discarded
- We end up having friends without being a friend because we're using them to feel OK
- We avoid having a "real" conversations with our friends for fear of losing them. Instead of being a true friend saying what may need to be said, we simply avoid anything that may adversely affect the relationship
- John 15: 12-13 12 This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you.13 This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
- True measure of friendship is its depth, human to human, deep to deep
SLIP #2: Trying to be a friend without having friends
- We need to be needed, our relationships are focused on helping others in need but won't ask for help from others
- We believe a lie that as long as we're needed, people will be around (friends)
- It can get to the point we fear people not being there if we were to ask for help so we don't.... leads to more loneliness
- Ecclesiastes 4:9 It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
Slip #3: Trying to be a friend like Jesus without being a friend with Jesus
- "God, why do my friends stink?" ... Maybe we're trying to hold them to a standard that's unachievable, a level only Christ can attain?
- When we can let go of the unrealistic standard for our friends, we can see the various ways they do help us and are true friends to us
- When we realize the God of the universe calls us a friend, it's humbling and we realize the grace He's given us... He can fill that void in our lives
CS Lewis, Four Loves “Those who are going nowhere, can have no fellow travelers”
- One of the best ways to develop friendships is to head somewhere together… serve together… Go after a common purpose or goal...
- Our true friends can give us traction so we don't continue to "slip" our way through life
It can feel like a tightrope between "being needy" and trying not to "be needed".... how are you doing with that balance? What steps do you need to take to refresh how you're being a friend or viewing your friends?
Our culture has a stong influence (even Standard Operation Procedures) on how dating and relationships are supposed to role. How's that working for you? Do you feel like you "have" to be with someone and being single is lame? Will marriage solve all your problems? This week online Rob Wegner talked about three "slips" we make in our courtship process.
- Slip #1: Being Married is Normal
- Our culture would say it's the beautiful, the entertaining, the powerful, or wealthy that win in this game. The problem is, you may not feel like you're any of those and it sure seems like you're losing the game. All around you people seem to be in relationships and eventually are getting married. You're single and that's a problem.
So what does the Bible say about that?
I Corinthans 7:7-8 Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me.
The two greatest characters in the New Testament were Jesus and Paul. Their impact has literally been felt by billions of people......and they were single.
Are you believing the lie that being single is a problem and in some way our culture is judging you? Do you feel pressure to be sexually active to keep up with cultures standards?
Slip #2: Accept the SOP in the WDS (Standard Operating Procedure in the World Dating Scene)
- Let's face it, we're bombarded with this everyone... TV, movies, advertising, our peers.... How you look is everything... your clothes, make-up to look younger, work-out, being sexy and physically desirable is what wins..
- Once you have a date, now you need to be spontaneous, adventurous, witty, romantic, and easy....all while looking confident
- Typically people get bored in steps 1 and 2 with people and move on. In Step 3, that often ends up in "he's an idiot" or "she's psycho". If you make it to step 4, over 1/2 the time ends up in divorce or a lifeless marriage.
In your gut, how's that working for you? What carnage has been left behind in your wake? Or, are you the carnage in someone else's wake? Are you winning or does it seem like someone (or everyone) else seems to have it figured out a lot more than you?
Are you believing the lie that someone actually wins in this game long term?
Maybe it's time for a new plan....
- The first question should be, "Does this person have the potential to be my best friend the rest of my life?" as opposed to, "Is he/she a hotty or a notty?"
- God created us with sexual attraction and drive, He's all about it... just within His plan though...
- Once we can understand our true value in the eyes of God, the world's standard operating procedures are exposed for how lame and unachievable they are...
We've all screwed up in this area... remember, God is all about hitting the refresh button...
What plan will I choose? Which plan do the people around me push me towards?
Slip #3: Marriage will be my ultimate fulfillment
- Marriage isn't the cure for loneliness, happiness, finding your purpose, or all your needs. Jesus is.
- We can be like leeches in marriage....sucking what we've been missing in our lives out of our spouse, and when they're dried up.... we're miserable, we move on, and/or we divorce
- Courtship doesn't stop once you get married
- Focus on becoming the right kind of person which will help you find and attract the right type of person...
- Many couples that have been married successfully for many years will tell you, "there were times we questioned if we married the right person".... they made a decision/commitment to be the right person and keep working at it
- If we asked ourself, what does humanity look like at its very best? Jesus is our hope to become the right person.
Am I focused on my spouse changing rather than where I need to take steps? Do I need to get outside help in our marriage to re-ignite the passion? What is the next right thing I need to do in my marriage?
Other great quotes:
- "I try to wow them with my awkwardness"- that was Rob's "game" in the dating days
- "God still loves you the same no matter where you're at....even if you've been giving Him the finger your whole life."
Additional reading (try youversion.com Online Bible):
1 John 4, 1 Corinthians 13