Christian-ese is not just another language, but a culture in itself. I like to call it a “bubble” where we hang out with Christians, communicate with Christians, and read only Christian books. This is wonderfully illustrated in an article by Barna Group called, The Art of Spiritual Conversation in a Changing Culture.
Barna Group said in the article that only 4% of unchurched adults had been invited to churches by a friend and attended, while 73% had never been invited. 23% were invited and declined. Mary Schaller of Q Place says it’s uncommon for Christians to have friendships with Non-Christians.
“Many people in the church tend to surround themselves with other believers and form a few deep relationships with people outside of church. Second, even when they do develop these friendships, many Christians lack practical conversational skills for talking about God.” says Mary Schaller.
In my experience, inviting people to church in a non-relational way doesn’t seem to go very far. I like how Schaller described it as “kissing before the first date.” When I had a fully functioning prayer group, we ventured out into the town to gather prayer requests, not to invite people to church. Our intent was to work on creating relationships with the community. If they asked questions, we answered them. You have to show first that you care.
Ultimately, we have built a bubble, a culture. Our culture has great music, tee-shirts, coffee shops, and a brilliant marketing strategy. We’ve made Christianity cool. Christians read Christian books, go to Christian conferences, and hang out with Christian friends. Because of this, I’m not sure we’re prepared for the Christian walk in this culture.
In reading The Insanity of God by Ripken, I feel we are not ready for persecution. Because we read only Christian books, we can’t even communicate with secular people in a language they understand. The bubble effectively keeps us protected from anyone who disagrees with our beliefs and makes us unprepared to face a country growing increasingly hostile towards its Christians. It shouldn’t surprise us if Christians are persecuted. As it states in 1 Peter 4:12-16 (ESV):
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of gloryand of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
Describe your friendships with unchurched or non-believers.