I was reading through several old illustrations this morning and ran across an extended quote from Dan Kimball. He is a minister and Church planter and wrote a book called, “They like Jesus but not the Church.” Dan is a leader in the area of a “Missional Church” that see their role in society, no matter where they are in the world, as missionaries of the gospel of Christ.
Chapter 2 is entitled “Why I escaped the Church office” and has a section he calls “The transformation from excited missionary into citizen of the bubble.” He describes how he views the steps most Christians take in their life of faith. Phase 1 is simply “We become Christians.” Phase 2 is “We become part of Church life.” Next he describes phase 3 as “We become part of the Christian bubble.” Now, I typed in this section and hope you understand and enjoy.
“Things really start changing in phase 3. As we slowly withdrawal from ongoing relationships with those outside the Church and focus on relationships with those inside the Church, something happens. Once, it was more natural and even exciting to share life with people at work or at school, with relatives, or with neighbors. But slowly we begin to see evangelism as something the Church does, primarily through events. We get more excited about going overseas to the mission field on summer trips than about the mission field we live in every day. We start to see evangelism as inviting people to go to a Church, where the pastor will do the evangelizing and explain Christianity, instead of spending time with people and talking with them and being the Church to them.
During this phase, we stop praying daily for those who don’t know Jesus and instead pray for our Church’s latest building project or latest program. Other than maybe at an office Christmas party that we have to go to, we rarely ever hang out with non-Christian friends or go to the movies with them. For the most part, only Christians are in our circle of peers. We begin buying little Christian stickers or put metal fish symbols on our cars, and we even have a few Christian T-shirts. We set our radios only to our favorite Christian radio shows, and most of the music we listen to is Christian. We make a trip to the amusement park that has the special Christian day each year featuring Christian bands. We find ourselves regularly using Christian words and phrases and clichés, such as backsliding, prayer warrior, fellowship, quiet time, traveling mercies, ‘I have a check in my spirit.’ The transformation is complete. We have become citizens of the bubble.”
-Page 44 of “They like Jesus but not the Church: insights from emerging generations” by Dan Kimball
Dan Kimball’s fear (and mine) is that too many Christians have taken up residence inside the “Christian Bubble.” We no longer have contact with people outside of Christianity. He ends this section of the book by saying that at Phase 4 “We become Jonah.” Not only do we no longer have contact with people outside of God, we really don’t care about them anymore. My question is, “Does any of this sound like my life?”