The fourth chapter of Real-Time Connections by Bob Roberts Jr. focuses on “Linking to the World.”
The first several chapters laid out his vision – that we would make disciples not through increased ‘church-based’ activity, but by being obedient in our every day lives.
Robert’s does have a disadvantage in writing about how to get Christians to engage in the world through their daily work. After all, he is a professional pastor paid to minister, so how can he possibly relate? What does he know about my cubicle? What does he know about my workplace struggles? What can he say to me?
That being said, he gets it. He’s not all about building another church-based ministry. He engages in unleashing his church for the kingdom through their daily pursuits. In previous chapters he lit the fire under lay leaders, encouraging them not just to spread the Kingdom through church activity, but through the influence in their individuals vocations.
In “Linking to the World,” Robert’s points out the obvious global shift we have had. All of the information is flattened thanks to television, telephones and international travel. Tribes and cultures are now dispersed across the planet and the enclaves we once thought safe are now in the great big mixing bowl of planet Earth.
He tries to boil down the concept to three poorly named and difficult to understand realities.
- Decentralized connectedness
- Nodal networks
- Post Americanism
However, once you get past the head scratcher titles and unpeel the material, you begin to understand what he’s saying. Mission work is no longer America sending out missionaries. In fact, the world is connected to each other through a thousand different connections and if we are to reach the world, we need to empower those connections.
The nodal networks are the places where those connections intersect. The mechanic buys his groceries from the same store as the lawyer. The lawyer hires the roofer who also shops at the same store. Their node is the grocer, who can influence and change lives. “Our lives as individuals exist at a point where multiple lines of relationship and influence intersect, lines that connect with hundreds of other nodes,” he writes.
There is recognition of the breakdown in the traditions, denominations and centralized way of delivering the gospel. “There will always be centralized authorities,” Roberts writes, “but they will not be like the highly structured, and authoratitve organizatons of the past.”
The church unleashed isn’t a new principle, but it is exciting to see a pastor who writes about his church members changing the world without everything rolling through the church structure.
He calls the church a “grass roots” effort.
He writes, “Each one of has the ability to do something truly significant with what God has given us if we will just step out.”
So, how about it? Will you step out?
We often think of living out our faith as passing out tracts in the work place or explaining the four spiritual laws in the company cafeteria. But that's not it at all. It's first and foremost about being our faith — living it in our work through quality and excellence and passion and compassion. It's “being different” that is the attraction. Good post, David, and ghood series, Bible Dude.
A good chapter, making very good points. I am a student in a lay pastor program right now, so I found Roberts' challenge to influence my “individual vocation” very personal. I always thought that I did this, until I started exploring this issue more indepth. Now, I am making a more deliberate effort to carry my faith with me. It has made a difference in the way I view my whole work experience. For starters, I have had to renew my servant heart. Instead of thinking of what's in it for me, putting the needs of others first has been a big part of this shift.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, David! Enjoyed them.
“Robert’s does have a disadvantage in writing about how to get Christians to engage in the world through their daily work. After all, he is a professional pastor paid to minister, so how can he possibly relate? What does he know about my cubicle? What does he know about my workplace struggles? What can he say to me?”
Haha, I found myself asking these same questions as I was reading this book.
I haven't finished the book, I just completed Chp 6. I feel like all of this book so far resonates with me and affirms a lot of what I've already started doing.
At the same time, I'm wondering if the rest the chapters will give me new ideas or action points to take I haven't thought of yet? Or if this book will serve more as a reference and tool to help me mobilize others.
Great points… I've often tried to take that perspective of “as if I were working for the Lord” in the workplace. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't. But generally speaking, when we work with that kind of excellence, we make a stong impression on the world around us.
Great points Glynn! Thanks for sharing!
I think that a lot of us are in the same boat. This is a tough shift in thinking about the workplace as the place of ministry like this! I think many of us view workplace ministry (as Glynn pointed out) as bringing tracts into the workplace. But it is completely different to think of ministering to people's real needs there. You are not alone Laura! I'm right along with you when it comes to trying to be more deliberate about carrying our faith into the workplace!
I'm cautious as well when I see stuff like this, but I agree that the one thing that he really has going for him is that his focus doesn't seem to be on building another church-based ministry. I appreciate when a pastor focuses on the “go out and do” stuff that the rest of us should be doing.
I also don't know if I expect him to give me the list of things that I need to do. Rather in books like this I hope to find someone who empowers me to do something great on my own. I love the quote shared at the end of this post…
“Each one of has the ability to do something truly significant with what God has given us if we will just step out.”