Contacting Versus Connecting

This article, Contacting Versus Connecting, is from the Church and Culture blog.


One of the great myths of relational life is that community is something found. In this fairy tale, community is simply out there – somewhere – waiting to be discovered like Prince Charming finding Cinderella. All you have to do is find the right person, join the right group, get the right job or become involved with the right church. It’s kind of an “Over the Rainbow” thing; it’s not here, so it must be over there.

Which is why so many people – and you’ve seen them and probably flirted with this yourself – go from relationship to relationship, city to city, job to job, church to church, looking for the community that they think is just around the corner if they could only find the right people and the right place. The idea is that real community exists somewhere and we simply must tap into it. It’s not something you have to work at; in fact, if you have to work at it, then you know it’s not real community.

This mindset runs rampant in our day. If you have to work at community in a marriage, you must not be right for each other. If you have to work on community where you are employed, you’ve got a bad boss or bad coworkers or a bad structure. If you have to work at community in a neighborhood, you just picked the wrong subdivision. If you have to work on things with people in a church, well, there are obviously just problems with the church or its leadership or… yep, its “community.”

I cannot stress enough how soundly unrealistic, much less unbiblical, this is. Community is not something you find; it’s something you build. What you long for isn’t about finding the right mate, the right job, the right neighborhood, the right church—it’s about making your marriage, making your workplace, making your neighborhood and making your church the community God intended. Community is not something discovered; it is something forged. I don’t mean to suggest any and all relationships are designed for, say, marriage. Or that there aren’t dysfunctional communities you should flee from. My point is that all relationships of worth are products of labor.

This is why the Bible talks about people needing to form and make communities, not just come together as a community or “experience” community. It’s why principles are given – at length – for how to work through conflict. It’s why communication skills are articulated in the Bible and issues such as anger are instructed to be dealt with. It’s why the dynamics of successfully living with someone in the context of a marriage or family are explored in depth. As the author of Hebrews puts it so plainly:

        So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your

        feet… run for it! Work at getting along with each other.

        (Hebrews 12:12-14, The Message)

James Emery White

Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve


It was no accident that this book, written by Ken Shigematsu (Senior Pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC), was mailed to me to read before it’s officially released next week on August 7th. Recently, I had a meeting with Pastor Art and he gracefully pointed out several obvious examples of how I’ve tried to earn value (i.e. love) through achievement (i.e. work). The embarrassing thing is that this wasn’t the first time someone has pointed that out to me.

In my heart I know that I am loved by my Heavenly Father and that His love is the only love that will fulfill me. But in my head, I somehow convince myself that if I just get one more hour of work done, one more household chore, teach my kids one more skill, impress my husband with an amazing feat… I will be overcome with an everlasting feeling of accomplishment. But that never happens. I just wear myself out and flop into bed at the end of the day feeling overly tired and defeated.

So what did I learn from this book? In two words: a lot! I’ll let you read the book for yourself to get the complete story, but here are the top three lessons I learned:

Rest is best. As I stated earlier, I constantly push myself to get one more thing done. In this book I loved this reminder: “According to the Genesis poem, God rested on the seventh day. This means that our first full day on the planet as the human race was a day off. We began our existence on the Sabbath. God created us to rest before we work. If we violate this order, we damage ourselves and deprive those we love.”

Friendship is essential. And most importantly, a friendship with Jesus. “As we deepen our friendships with Jesus Christ, we become the kind of friend our hearts long for and receive the friends God has for us.” We weren’t meant to live our lives alone, but we must be careful that we surround ourselves with friends who will positively influence us. “God can use our friends to transform our desires, so that we aren’t ambitious for ambition itself, but rather ambitious to serve a higher calling.”

I must surrender. “Surrendering our lives to Christ not only radically recalibrates our desires, it also brings us into a more – not less – fulfilled life. When we look back, we find that God’s ways are far better than our own.” In the final pages of the book, the author writes about a passage of scripture he is drawn to at the end of John, after Jesus’ resurrection, when Jesus is walking on the beach talking to Peter (John 21:18-22). Ken Shigematsu writes “When I am tempted to compare myself to someone who is more successful than I am, who seems to have an easier path, I hear Jesus saying, “What is that to you? You follow me.” This really resonates with me, and I sense that I will be reminded of this same passage repeatedly as I learn and continue to fully surrender.

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of the book, visit When you pre-order the book, you’ll receive a sneak peek plus a free study guide for individual or small group use.

#survivalguideforthesoul #kenshigematsu

Book Review by Sarah Biggerstaff

Summer Prayer

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