Life in a bubble
Events of the last few weeks are another clear signal of how uninformed and out of touch most Christians are with the real world. Others have written and preached about the church bubble, the shameful icon of churches that are shrink-wrapped from the mean street influences around them. Few believers can comprehend nine people being murdered by a racial maniac right there in church. Even more cannot imagine or verbalize the weight of the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage and its outcome on our culture in years to come. It's a total disconnect. Welcome to la-la land!
Writing in Leadership Journal (Summer, 2011), Trevor Lee explained, "By 'Christian bubble' I mean the subculture Christians create that allows us to conduct our entire life having minimal contact with anything secular." With the largest percentage of conservative, evangelical churches surviving on a downward trend line, it's not hard to understand why so many of them have insulated themselves from outside influences. I mean, its survival mode time. And, that's about living for another week and guarding that which is inside.
So, what are the roots of the church bubble? There are several---
1. Separation anxiety.
A point of clarity may work here. It's really a reverse separation anxiety. Bubble
churches are not in a funk because they are separated from the world. They are
fearful of being in the world and overcome by world influences. It's the old water
in the boat or boat in the water thing. We'll just keep church life in the bubble so
none of that worldly influence can seep into the church. These congregations
need to read through John 17 again and go to prayer meeting with Jesus. When
Jesus prayed for future believers (well duh! That would be us), he prayed that they
would be in the world but not of the world. Even more, Jesus promised that he
had overcome the world (see John 16:33).
2. My happy place.
For many people church is an escape from a grueling life. Daily life is often
busy, hectic, fast, and chaotic. The psychology people tell us we need a place of
retreat, that special quiet chamber of solitude and rest. So, the church is our
happy place. Well, we like to spiritualize it some, using words like sanctuary,
haven, harbor, shelter, refuge, and others. And, we don't like anyone to invade
our happy place.
3. My spiritual center.
Church people are ill-informed about real life because they often refuse to apply
their faith and worldview to every aspect of life. Many churches and spiritual
leaders refuse to discuss political issues, government, and many other current
events at church, or teach their members how to apply their faith to the critical
issues we are facing as a nation. For many believers life is segmented into
individual silos. Faith is kept over here, how to vote is slotted over there, how to
date in another, how to parent somewhere else. It's serious misunderstanding of
discipleship, Bible teaching, and the role of Christ's church. Hey dude! Everything
is spiritual. If your faith doesn't touch everything you do, there's a flaw in it!
4. Post traumatic syndrome.
Many church and church members have been involved in a church fight. Since
the first century church people have had trouble getting along. Usually, when the
dust clears, church splits and divisions are blamed on those new people,
outsiders who have moved into the community. They suffer from post-
traumatic syndrome and protect themselves by creating walls to keep disruptive
5. Home Sweet Home.
Church is a family and a spiritual home for many believers. It is perhaps more so
today in our highly mobile world. Factored into the family thing are sociological
blather about the number of people we can actually accommodate in our real life
friend, acquaintance, and family circles. When we edge up close to that numerical
boundary, there's often a shut-down mechanism to keep it a close-knit family.
The function and role of the church in society is a clear teaching of Scripture. Even more, God's Word calls on all believers to be alert and watchful, diligent and vigilant, aware of the world around them. Jesus warned his followers to be "...as wise as serpents and innocent as doves...." (Matthew 10:16). How many of us have prayed for leaders like the men of Issachar "...who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (2 Chronicles 12:32).
This means we've go to get out of the bubble and into the real world around us. Remember...
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
2 Timothy 2:7
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you
may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and
understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him,
bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the
signs of the times.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2 Timothy 3:1
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake up from
Pastor, spiritual leader, move your people out of that bubble. Trust God to go into the high ways and hedges with truth than can change lives and culture. And, teach them to "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Be sober-mined; be watchful. You adversary the devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour"
1 Peter 5:8