The Divine Commodity

0310283752Have you noticed that the church today is in a paradigm shift?  Just when you feel you have your balance and are ready to head in a new direction, the sand shifts and you are back where you started? You aren’t alone.

The American church is changing  – and for the better.  Skye Jethani has written this incredible book that will help us define the landscape.

Skye looks at the approach we have taken in the past – primarily that of marketing – and calls us to a fuller life of spiritual disciplines.  He has created a book that is a must for pastors.

Jethani calls us to teach the disciplines of community instead using the world’s approach to gathering a crowd – that of marketing.  This is a complete paradigm shift for many of us.  Even though we have small groups, we often still use the marketing approach to get people into them.

Paradigm shifts don’t happen overnight.  First they require knowing what you are letting go of, and letting go of it.  So, I asked Skye a question along these lines.  Here is my question and his reply:

In your book, you talk about the need to relearn the lost art of friendship (page 103).  Coming from an introvert who finds Facebook and Twitter great tools to aid me in keeping up with people, can you please explain what the lost art of friendship is and how we would go about relearning it?  Also, I’ve noticed that people from other cultures can spend hours and days sitting and sharing together. Is this required in this lost art?

Thanks for the question, Kim. As a fellow introvert, I understand your need for more explanation about “the lost art of friendship.” I’ve never been a person with a lot of friends. I’ve always tended to have a handful of deeply meaningful friendships at any given time. A social-butterfly I am not. But whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it is becoming increasingly difficult to foster meaningful friendship in our fragmented culture. A lot of the small group movement is fueled by this challenge—trying to connect isolated people into life-transforming friendships. But at their best, small groups can only create the conditions in which friendships might germinate, but there’s no guarantee this will happen.

You’re note about people in other cultures spending hours together in conversation is insightful. I do believe this is a key ingredient. The ability to be present with another person for extended periods of time and simply converse is rare in our culture. (That seems to happen a lot in college, and rather infrequently thereafter.) In some cultures meals are lengthy rituals where relationships are fostered and nurtured. But in our fast-food society where families rarely gather at a table (let alone friends), meals don’t serve that purpose.

Social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook have allowed us to have hundreds of “friends,” but these relationships tend to be very shallow. To recapture the lost art of friendship, I believe we need to invest time with a person and practice the spiritual discipline of conversation in which we make ourselves increasingly vulnerable by moving past clichés, facts, and opinions, and actually risk sharing our feelings (a particularly difficult thing for men).

But in the end friendship is an art, not a science. One cannot prescribe a detailed action plan for developing meaningful and deep friendships. What concerns me isn’t that people have lost the techniques of friendship, but the desire for them. My friend Shane Hipps has noted that online connections are like eating sugar. They give you a burst of satisfaction, a quick and easy forum for relationships, but they ultimately leave you hungry for a more lasting and meaningful connection. But rather than investing the hard work necessary for building relationships with the people present in our lives, many are simply getting their sugar buzz online. Over time their desire for the meaty protein of incarnate relationships begins to disappear.

You can buy this “must have” book here:  at Amazon.com

Also, Skye will be touring other blogs today.  Check out the conversations on these blogs as well:

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One Response to “The Divine Commodity”

  1. questions from the divine commodity blog tour « ZonderFann Says:

    […] Staying Focused -In your book, you talk about the need to relearn the lost art of friendship (page 103).  Coming from an introvert who finds Facebook and Twitter great tools to aid me in keeping up with people, can you please explain what the lost art of friendship is and how we would go about relearning it?  Also, I’ve noticed that people from other cultures can spend hours and days sitting and sharing together. Is this required in this lost art? […]

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