Connect The Unconnected

Rustic Rope Fish Net

A sign hung in a church foyer asks each person that passes by, “Are you connected?” As I stopped and read that sign, I wondered,what determines if I am or am not connected? For most of my years in ministry I have worked hard at helping people connect into the church in various ways. I have even had arguments with church leaders about what determines “true connection.” If you spend much time around me or read my blogs, you will quickly find out that I strongly believe that you MUST be connected to the church in a meaningful way. Yet when I sat to write this blog I thought, wow, what do I really mean by that? Or a better question, what would Jesus say about it?

The disciples had been fishing all night. They were tired and washing their nets. Jesus approached them and got into the boat they were using. After teaching the crowds, he asked Peter to head back out and fish some more. I can just imagine Peter…tired, exhausted, and frustrated because he admitted their previous outing had left them empty handed. Yet Peter gives in, and out they go toward the deep water.

I am sure many of you know the rest of the story. Jesus performs an incredible miracle and they pull in the haul of all hauls. They now had bragging rights for decades among the other fishermen. The boats were so full they almost sank! Jesus, being the greatest teacher ever, uses this moment to not only teach but call these men to a relationship unlike any they had ever had.

Often connection in the church revolves around some type of commitment level that goes beyond just pew sitting. It may include being a volunteer with a ministry, being an usher, handing out bulletins or even joining a small group. Each of these are important and can serve a greater purpose. But I ask again, what does it mean to truly be connected?

From scripture we can see that connection comes from the premise of following. We become connected to Christ and His body when we are following him. Jesus first calls his disciples to follow. Following comes before serving.

Jesus began to build a relationship with His disciples before he asked them to feed a crowd, much less go out in His name preaching the Gospel.

I believe the church in America would experience a radical transformation if we would follow Jesus’ definition of being “connected.” We would first and foremost help people connect on a deeper level with God and other believers in an authentic, accountable relationship that presses us to grow in spiritual maturity. The service that we do see in the Church would come from a place of spiritual health and stability that can only come from Jesus. As a result, I think burnout would reduce and our focus on healthy disciple making communities would increase.

My hope is that we move connections from a banner in the foyer to a belief in our hearts that leads to life changing behavior in all of our churches.

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