If you feel like you are in spiritual isolation, I feel for you. My heart breaks for you and I pray that you can find connection soon. Unfortunately this article isn’t for you. This is for the leaders, pastors, elders, deacons and regulars in the church today. I want to challenge you to consider if your church is one causing spiritual isolation. It’s a real issue and we need to consider it.
With the move from community church to mega church, there has been an impact even on smaller churches. We have moved from Sunday School to small group, we have tossed out much of the social activities and moved from relationships to “processes”. There is nothing wrong with a process or even programs, but if they happen with the loss of relationship, they can be costly. Our worship services have become places where people can hide and they are often never really connecting. Without connecting, the church isn’t making the full impact into their lives.
When an individual is in spiritual isolation, they are at great risk. We all need others to help us, support us and hold us accountable. Without others, we are a severed body part. A hand without an arm and ultimately without a body, the hand will die. Are there dying body parts in your church? Perhaps your church looks like an abstract painting of a body, all mouths but no ears. Arms with no hands, eyes with no feet. Lots of parts that look the same but lacking diversity.
Here is a simple test. Are there new people joining the group that makes decisions or is it the same group? Do you add leaders? Does your decision making body stay the same year after year? Do you recruit leaders and teachers? if not, then you are probably not using the gifts of people who are newer to your church. They are not connected, not really serving and you are not functioning as the body of Christ. To put it bluntly, you are a social club and the ones in control plan to stay in control. If they are in control, then Christ isn’t in control. If Christ is leading, then He will bring in new leaders.
What would happen if the disciples didn’t let others lead? What would the New Testament look like without Mark, Luke, Barnabas, Silas. Paul was an outsider. What would the church look like today if Paul was never allowed to get involved? If the Apostles didn’t pass on leadership, didn’t grow and give away ministry, the Christian faith would have died with them. As the church continues to shrink in America, maybe we should consider this as a problem. Maybe it’s not a major problem, it’s not even our biggest problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.
The reality is, without people having an opportunity to become part of the church, the people are always going to be outsiders. They will never grow into the person that they could be if they were fully connected. Spiritually isolated individuals are at the biggest danger of falling into temptation and falling away from church. These people are hurting in your church right now. They need to be connected and plugged in, discipled and serve. They may have been attending your church for years. The question is, are you willing to break away from your social club to reach the spiritually isolated in your church?