I realized not too long ago that an aspect of my job I have neglected somewhat is being a connector of people. In cross-cultural church planting and discipleship, I find it easy to get tunnel vision. Without noticing, I start focusing almost exclusively on the one-on-one discipleship that our team is doing with different people. We meet with this person over here, disciple that person over there, but very little of it ends up being connected to much of anything else. Each relationship is in its own little bubble.
I see two problems with that:
- One of the outcomes of this discipleship should be to see people coming together into new church fellowships. It’s hard for that to happen if each disciple is on an island, not connected with any other followers of Christ. It seems harder to connect people later on, when one-on-one discipleship has already happened for a while.
- This is a more communal culture than our own. Focusing on your “personal relationship with God” doesn’t get you quite so far around here, because culturally it might not be quite so personal.
We have never wanted to be the leaders of church fellowships. We have wanted to see them come together somewhat naturally and help the locals step into leadership almost from the very beginning. I think God is showing us, though, that we have an important role to play in connecting people.
Before, my mentality was more that we would disciple new people individually, and then when they are ready (whatever that means) we’ll bring them together into groups. But it could be that bringing people together into groups is what needs to happen first, and then the discipleship will come a little later. I’m wondering what it would look like to get groups of neighbors together for nothing more than fellowship, and then from there see what kind of spiritual interest there is. Before having to suddenly go home, Pam and Tucker were working with their friends in a village to see about putting on a meal for the people of the village.
Around here, I think establishing the connections with people first can help remove many of the barriers to them living as the Body of Christ later on. It may be that one of the best things we could be doing right now is throwing parties!