Friday, October 14, 2011

Intentional Mission and Living Outside of the Christian Bubble

I read this article last week and found it to be extremely helpful.  I myself became convicted about the Christian bubble that I lived in while I was in high school.  I grew up in a Christian home, most of my activities were through church clubs and youth group, I played in a Christian band with my family, I attended Christian school and was then home schooled, and on and on I could go.
While I was in high school I became convicted about the fact that I had no friends outside of the church, and so I started attending Bucks County Community College.  My favorite place to hangout was on the front steps with the smokers (yes, my parents feared that I would end up with lung cancer...), but what I found to be amazing is that I had deeper spiritual discussions with these people than I had ever had with my Christian friends.
There was the ex-Jehovah's Witness who had toyed with paganism and Druid practices but didn't really believe in anything.  He was mostly hoping to graduate from college and achieve a "normal" 9-5 life (he was in his 30's and had worked nights most of his life).
And then there was the atheist who wanted to discuss physics and the probability of a God existing.  He also liked to tell stories of peeing out of his 3rd story window in Quakertown at 2 in the morning because he was so drunk.  He challenged me both intellectually and spiritually.
And there was the brain injured NA addict (yes, he was addicted to Narcotics Anonymous) who should have been attending SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) judging from his conversation and constant flirting with girls who were obviously not interested.

I could go on and on, but I actually have a point I'm trying to make...

When it came time to make that big decision as to which college to attend I had most of my friends and family pushing me towards a Christian college.  They had a fear of the interaction of a Christian teen with the secular culture, but I looked at it and thought, "I'm planning on being a missionary.  How will I be able to handle going to a culture where I am immersed in secular life and have no Christian contacts if I can't even attend a secular university?!"  And so I attended West Chester University and made more friends outside of that Christian bubble.

But now fast-forward to the present, to me right here today.  I find that I have slowly and all too easily slipped back into old habits and old ways of thinking.  I made attempts in this past year, while working at Christ Community Bible Church, to live outside the bubble.  I had the diner that I ate at twice a week for 3-4 months in order to build relationships, but just around the time that I started building those relationships I lost my focus on why I was doing it, got consumed with the amount of money I was shelling out for it, and stopped going.  And then there was the bar that I started going to on a weekly basis, but then I started to wonder/worry what people at church would think if they found out I was regularly eating/drinking at a bar, and my mind also once again turned to the amount of money I was shelling out (bars are a bit more expensive than diners...) and so I stopped.

So now, as I start a new job, begin at a new church, start a new marriage, I am once again confronted with the question of, How will I live outside the bubble?  Although the question becomes even more complex because it is now, How will we (Dana and I) live outside the bubble?  How will I lead a youth group that intentionally lives outside the bubble?  How will I lead the congregation in worship that intentionally pushes them outside the bubble?

And so I start this all off with a blog post, remembering the past, assessing the present, pushing towards the future, and asking you the question, How will you live outside the bubble?


  1. Ooh, excellent question. I agree with you that it's very important to be *intentional* about living outside the bubble. I love my church, and I think we do a good job of reaching out to the immediate community (as well as supporting national and international missions), but a lot of our congregants are Westminster Seminary students, and it certainly creates a very safe, and somewhat elitist, bubble. To start, I find that if I purpose to work outside of a Christian environment (which, for me, means teaching in a public or charter school) and make an effort to be involved in the community, I have a good foundation and natural non-bubble connections. My husband and I are connected with a local coffeeshop and we are planning to begin a subtle evangelism with the owners, wherein we set aside one evening per week to purposefully hang out at the shop and connect with anyone who chances along. We want to offer friendship and a sense of safe haven, along with prayer and spiritual discussion. It's a very exciting opportunity, simply because it means we are purposefully and meaningfully connecting with the people we pass by every day, those are outside our Bubble.

  2. Great thoughts and ideas! Thanks for sharing. I think the one thing you hit on there that's really important is finding something that you enjoy doing and then using that for reaching out and connecting with others so that you can share the love of Christ with them. Its easy when trying to step out of the bubble to do it in ways that are weird or awkward to ourselves, which can actually keep us from building real relationships, but if we find something we enjoy doing, like going to a coffee shop, then it can actually be a facilitator.

    A couple of ideas I've had for me are:
    Joining a book club at the library
    Dancing (there's a local bar that has country line dancing, I've also been swing dancing)
    Crocheting class (yes, I'd love to learn to crochet better - which does imply I already do it poorly :)

  3. Great article Nathan! It's exciting to see you wrestling with these thoughts. I pray God continues to lead you and your wife (Congrats!!!!) on effect impact at the church and in the local community!!