By Larry Barker, Director of North American Church Planting
Our family was living in Romania in 2000 and we had a college student come to spend the summer with us. She was a fine Christian young lady fitting in well with our family and was a great encouragement to all of us.
She interacted well with the Romanians and was always ready to help any way she could. One of the things she did that still makes me laugh was when someone would get in her space she would say, “You’re invading my bubble, please move back a little!”
While this makes me smile, the way many Christians and churches seem to be living inside a bubble breaks my heart.
We have built a sub-culture where we stay to ourselves and enjoy our Christian friends while giving the impression that no one outside of our bubble had better get into our space. That bubble seems to define being a good Christian as “someone who is faithful in attendance, follows all the rules, and holds a position in the church.”
The Christian bubble focuses on our needs and taking care of one another. Church membership to some is more about entitlement and protecting their rights rather than about enlistment into service.
Churches are in trouble because we have lost our passion for any ministry beyond our own personal bubble.
We do not have time nor space for those on the outside because most programs and activities are centered on taking care of those already on the inside.
The time has come to burst the bubble of being inwardly focused and begin developing intentional relationships with lost people. Many churches talk about being the friendliest church in town, but the people outside of their bubble will never know it because they have not been allowed inside.
We have our circle of friends who are saved and faithful so there is really no space or room for anyone else that isn’t already inside of our bubble.
What if we took a lost neighbor hunting with us?
What if instead of always going out to eat with those who are already saved and nicely secure inside our bubble we invited our lost neighbors over for steak?
What if we decided to pay for a round of golf for that coworker who is unchurched just so we could demonstrate the love of Christ in a practical way?
Maybe instead of expecting them to burst through our bubble by attending an event we should show them Jesus as we do life together with them?
We must seek to engage the culture around us by caring about and relating to individuals on their turf, which, I know you know I’m going to say it, requires allowing them inside our bubble.
They should not have to burst our bubble for us; instead, we should burst our own bubble and pursue them. When we get out of our bubble we will be constantly looking for ways to engage the culture we live in rather than creating programs to serve only those who are already saved.
Well, did I burst your bubble? If we are going to be salt and light as the Lord has commanded us to be then we are going to have to figure out ways to penetrate our culture.
We have to find a place of entry where we can contribute to our communities, but it won’t happen if we continue to protect our space and stay inside our self-created bubbles.
Matthew 5:16 says it well: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.”