Monday, January 6, 2014

Create A Connection

About a month ago, my daughter Haley said to me on the drive to school in the morning (driving my 5 year old to school every day has been the best 10 minutes of bonding we have had in our father/daughter relationship...I highly recommend it); she said, "Daddy, I'm sad."  I said, "Why honey?"  She said, "Because I have no BFFs.  Nobody wants to be my Best Friend Forever."  I paused and filled my overly-protective parental lungs with a 5 second processing moment of a deep breath of air.  Nobody wants to be best friends with my daughter, the perfect angel of goodness that I know her to be, I thought?  I gave a quick explanation, "Well, Best Friends Forever is silly anyway, Haley.  For one thing it's silly to have a best friend.  We all just have different kinds of friends, not best friends.  And then, the concept of Forever is a misnomer (I was losing her with the word misnomer...) your school mates probably won't even be friends with each other for one more week, let alone forever."  Haley was unimpressed with my answer.  And so, I decided, there was really only one thing to do.  I was going to go to the school play ground and help my daughter to:

Create A Connection

I went up to a girl that Haley wanted to be friends with, and said, "Wow, that is an awesome hair clip you have, Haley do you see her hair clip?  It's just like yours.  And wow, your jacket is really awesome too, it's the same jacket color as yours Haley."  Instantly, from out of nowhere, by the wave of a wand and the work of the Holy Spirit, there was a friendship connection (perhaps not forever, but at least until recess that day), between the two girls.  It was as if these two girls wanted to be friends, but they didn't have the social skills, the know-how, the courage, to create a friendship. To:

Create A Connection

The thought occurred to me that a healthy church also helps to create connections between people.  In a similar way to my daughter's kindergarten experience, many people come to church to look for God, meaning and significance, and looking for the chance to:

Create A Connection.

They don't know how to Create a Connection.  They don't have the existing relationship, they don't know anybody, they don't have the courage.  And so, no connection is made.  Very often at church I will meet someone who is standing in line to say hello to me, and I will find out that they are an attorney, or a book editor, or a retired General, and I will then say, "Hey John, you were in the armed forces, do you know Peter over here is also a retired General?"  And instantly, there is a connection that is made.  Lyle Schaller tells us that if the average new visitor to a church doesn't make three social connections in the first month that they are in attendance, they won't return.  I actually think it is possible to help people to make three connections in the first day that they are in attendance at church.

One of the great misunderstandings about fostering a culture of growth in a church is that it is all about advertising, or it is about an evangelical heart, or it is about an outreach focussed ministry.  To be sure, these things are all important.  But the most important thing for church growth, I have found, is creating a culture where natural connections between people and people, and people and God can take place.

Several years ago, Bill Hybels wrote a book called, Just Walk Across the Room.  It was a good book written about the core concept of the need to lose our inhibitions and just go over to people we don't know, and strike up a conversation.  If I were to write a sequel to Bill's book, it might be, Just Create A Connection.  Creating a connection between people takes the focus off of yourself, as the primary relationship, and helps to direct the primary relationship onto others.

Jesus must have been good at creating connections.  Very often after Jesus heals someone, he will tell that person to go to the temple and wash.  We usually associate that errand to the temple to be about a temple ritual of purification.  The problem is that Jesus was never much into purification rituals, or rituals of any kind.  Why then, did Jesus send these people to the temple?  It's possible, that Jesus knew that a physical healing was only part of a person's overall healing process, and that Creating A Connection between an outcast person and the inner society was true healing.  Jesus sent people to the temple to wash in order, I think, to:

Create A Connection

Give it a try sometime today.  Maybe you will find that "Matchmaking" is not just a song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, but rather an important aspect of our overall Christian walk with one another.  And it's fun!

Oh, and one more thing.  I have absolutely no idea how you would create a connection between a deep sea diver and a killer whale....(picture at top of post:-))  I just liked the picture.

All For Now,

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