Studies have shown that many church members don’t do evangelism. Fear is often a primary obstacle, but so is the reality that many of us are cocooned and insulated in the church—thus, we’re disconnected from the very people we’re called to reach. Here are some signs that you’re cocooned in the church world:
- You don’t really know many non-believers. You may have non-believing neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers that you know at a surface level, but you don’t really have strong relationships with them that facilitate evangelism. Most of your life takes place around believers.
- You see the world not as a mission field to reach, but as an enemy to avoid. You take “Be in the world but not of the world” to mean “Don’t even be in the world so that you’ll avoid being of the world.” You’re more afraid of the world influencing you than you are committed to influencing the world for the gospel–so you avoid the world at all costs.
- You plan to be in church every time the doors are open, regardless of other obligations you may have. I know this position is a debatable one, so please hear me out. I want believers to be faithful to join the gathered saints (Heb. 10:25), but that doesn’t mean there are never times when missing a church event for the sake of others is justified.
- The church world is where you find your self-worth. When you find your purpose and value in positions you hold in the church—rather than in your position in Christ—you’ll cloister yourself in that world. That’s where you feel most significant (and often, most powerful).
- The only persons you pray for are other believers. While praying for one another in the family of God is crucial, a lack of intercession for non-believers and the unchurched implies a heart that’s too narrowly focused. It suggests that we’ve insulated ourselves from the spiritual needs around us.
- You drive by neighbors you don’t even know to get to your church family on Sunday morning. You recognize their faces, but you may not know their names. Or, if you do know their names, you don’t know their stories. They’re just a face in your peripheral vision as you focus your attention toward believers.
- Your primary understanding of evangelism is “Y’all come to us.” You want people to hear the gospel, but you view evangelism as the work of the pastor when everyone’s gathered for worship at your church. Even if you’re the pastor, you evangelize primarily from the seemingly safe place of the pulpit.
So, what’s your assessment of your own life? Are you cocooned?
Cacooning is not a unique Christian phenomenon. I have observed that the students at the university where I take classes tend to associate with groups of students with whom they are the most comfortable. While they are more likely than older people to have more diversity in their friendships, they still tend to hang out with people like themselves–foreign students from a particularly country with foreign students, from the same country, Black students with Black students, local students (students who come from communities in the region). with local students, and so on. Affinity plays an important role in relationships. For example, Ag students hang out with other Ag students. Sociologists and anthropologists have studied and documented this behavior in humans since the late nineteenth century. I don’t think that Christians should feel guilty about this tendency but recognize it as a natural tendency that they need to overcome if they are to share their faith with others. One way that we can help our fellow Christians overcome this tendency is to share with them ways that Christians have successfully overcome the tendency individually and as a church or small group. Working with non-believers on community service projects is one such way.
I was actually in my cocoon before I started going to a physical church.
Then I became a bricks and mortar caterpillar. I was always uncomfortable in this stage. After a number of years, I finally realized I had graduated from religion. I jumped up and threw my bricks and mortarboard in the air.
Now I am a butterfly, fragile, but free to share my faith as God Directs.