The Bubble

You know what I mean by “the bubble” right?

Isn’t it obvious?

I’m talking about The Christian Bubble (it deserves the capitals because it is a legitimate place). Christians love their bubble.

We call culture evil and we avoid it and the people a part of it.

We want to reach unbelievers but we aren’t ever around them.

I am the worst example. I work at a church and I go to seminary. Almost all of my time is around professing believers in Christ. And that cannot be a positive thing. Just thinking about this convicts me with everything I am, and yet, sadly, nothing has changed in how I interact with people for the past year.

At a seminar I went to a few weeks ago, Dan Kimball displayed a graph showing that the longer people are Christians the less non-Christians they spend time with. That, friends, is a wake up call.

I have 2 questions:

  1. Does this apply to you?
  2. How can Christians avoid this happening (practical ways)?
  • David

    1. Yes…and as I’ve been a Christian my whole life…well, you get the picture
    2. Being proactive in looking outwards. There’s some great programs to encourgage this, such as Servolution, while Jesus Culture (and others no doubt) also teach evangelism programs which involve teams…and being yourself.

    Bottom line – we were called to GO and spread the Gospel, etc

  • Daniel

    1. The “Bubble” was my experience, was my whole world, all throughout growing up as a good, ‘involved’ church kid. My friends were all in my youth group. I was always focused on the next upcoming youth retreat, or camping trip, or whatever. Later I stepped into an even more extreme bubble, living with about 200 people on a missionary ship for two years. Morning, noon and night, it was the Christian-missionary bubble, 24-7. Of course, there were forays out into the cities we were docked in, to “witness”, but it was anything but real interaction with non-Christians… But God, in His grace and sovreignty, slowly pulled me out of all that, teaching me to lean on Him, and not on a safe little Christian cocoon.

    2. You already know what my answer to this one would be…. It’s painfully simple, and yet painful nonetheless. The most practical thing we can do is not to have the cocoons where we can hide in the first place. Our own human nature, our fear, our lack of confidence, provides enough of a barrier between us and those who are lost, without constructing a whole system in which to safely live out our Christian lives.

    In scripture we are called a Living Temple. Physical temples sit in one spot, and people have to go to it. A living temple is comprised of everyone who belongs to God (the Living Stones) who are not fixed, but can spread out to every corner of the earth. The tragedy is, we so often tend to revert back to putting the Living Stones back into physical temples (we call them churches), where we expect the outside world to come to us, if they want to hear the Truth. But God destroyed the physical temple, took His presence out of the Holy of Holies, and put it in each one of us, so that we could take it wherever we go. To our “secular” jobs, our neighborhoods, our cities…

    • Tyler

      I think my only issue with what you said is that only being around non Christians isn’t healthy either. It is important for the believer to be in fellowship with other believers.

      • Daniel

        Except that I’m not talking about not being around any Christians… Quite the contrary… In fact, this understanding of what it means to be the Living Temple, really directs us to a closer fellowship with other believers… When we are able to disconnect our understanding of “fellowship” with a place, or a meeting, or any type of liturgy, then fellowship can happen daily, not just a few times a week… (although planned, weekly meetings are still a good idea, but they can done in a much less formal way) The focus shifts to encouraging one another as we’re knee-deep in the world around us, lifting each other up as we engage with the lost people around us, instead of having most of our “fellowship” consist of silently sitting beside each other, chatting in the church lobby, or just talking about the various goings-on within the Christian sub-culture…

        • Tyler

          Valid points there. Seems like we are in agreement.

  • ash

    it’s not such a bad thing to have friends who do not believe the same way you do. there are times when i learn some incredible lessons from the friends of mine that are agnostic or even atheist…it challenges you and puts you in the environment of love and reception. jesus was never in a bubble and spent time w/ ppl who turned to him and others who never would.

    there are seasons where a bubble isn’t nec. a bad thing. i spent just under a year in kansas city at a discipleship program where we lived and breathed church and each other all the time. and i learned a great deal. but it’s important to remember to take that out w/ you.

  • Yonas

    Thank you Tyler for this post…let me share my personal experience:

    Ironically (with the exception of maybe two people that I spend time pretty regularly), majority of my friends are non-Christians (NC). Then again- the definition of friends vary greatly from “We had our first coffee meeting last week” to “we have lunch/dinner together every week” kinda friends. Is it my fault that when I hang out with my NC friends…we can spend HOURS talking about many subjects over lunch or dinner, but sit in silence and forced conversations when having lunch/dinner with my (supposedly) Christian brothers? Maybe because Christians want to pick ‘safe’ topics….and just for whatever reason can’t go beyond those and have to always appear that they got it together? I don’t know. I know that I’ve been as open about my flaws to my Christian brothers just as much as to my NC friends.

    The bubble itself: It is a safe place for many Christians to be…the typical groups that I see are mostly young married couples(age group 20s-30s), who hang out with their other typical married couples…go to church together, bible study together, etc and form their own cliques. Is it ‘bad’? No. It is what it is.

    Many Christians love to talk about reaching out to people, etc…but bottom line is, Christians or not…people are people. Regardless how many times you talk about ‘reaching out’, people still tend to gravitate towards those you think are interesting enough, fun enough, similar enough, or *insert here* enough for you to pursue a deeper relationship with. This is why you tend to see the typical people in the Christian bubble/cliques are your 20s-30s married suburban couples, who only hang out with other young married suburban couples. It’s not right/wrong. It is what it is.

    I want to share my opinion on what David said about spreading the gospel. I have been in situations where people wanted to ‘hang out’ or ‘be friends’ with me because they wanted to minister, spread the gospel to me. I’ve had enough conversation with my NC friends that even in the most ‘pure’ intention, this is one of the biggest turn offs that many NCs have about Christians. It has the “I’m better than you” attitude that just acts more as a repellent than a draw factor to many Christians. I’ve had somebody came up to me (because he assumed i was an international student from a non-Christian country, therefore I was not a Christian)….asked me a question if I was a Christian. I said yes. He asked another question “Did you become a Christian in the US or outside?” I said “I’ve always been a Christian prior to coming to the US”. He didn’t ask any other questions, because I did not fit his agenda of the ‘non-christians who need to be converted’. Sad, but true. I opened up to somebody before about difficulty in finding friendships in church….and he asked me “Are you a citizen”? Because most Americans wouldn’t invest a time in a friendship if they thought you were ‘leaving’ the country. Yep…and he was a pastor too….I wish these were made up stories, but they’re not.

    I had MANY friends in college…and not a single one of them was Christians (buddhist, Hindu, moslem, etc), yet we were able to spend time together and they felt comfortable enough in asking me questions about Christianity without feeling that I’m better than them or they were being judged.

    One of my longest posts…sorry Tyler. I’ll probably add more…

    • ash

      useless my foot! tyler’s right, you have great points in this and i agree! people are people and i also find my “nc” friends to be uplifting, challenging, inspiring and yes we can talk for hours. sure it’s great to surround w/ “c” friends who can share the gospel w/ you and “do church” and live the life of christ w/ you but again, jesus made friends w/ strangers…ones who would and would not believe. i find that sometimes the bubble makes people forget their calling and who we are supposed to be- expressing love and grace…a pastor friend of mine wrote recently that they (husband/wife) actually do not promote the “pastor” card at the top of conversation…their reasoning is that they want people to relate to them in “default,” and not feel so uncomfortable…esp. b/c christ calls us ALL to come to him as we are. and as reps. of the cross, should we not act the same way? they noted that when the cat gets out of the bag…usually unintended, people’s attitude changes and they either criticize or perhaps shift and apologize for everything, when it’s just not nec. i noted in that blog discussion that we shouldn’t have to always be preaching and talking to “nc” folks about God, rather it should resonate off of us…that is the light of our creator. and vice versa…why can’t we tackle ANY topic w/ our “c” friends…it seems silly when we’re all human together…

  • Yonas

    OK for those who don’t know me…I was born into a Christian family…and have always been Christian my whole life (sometimes a ‘good’ Christian..sometimes straying…sometimes bad…but Christian nonetheless).

  • Sovann

    1) Yes, definately. My engagement with non-Christians is at work and at play and now I’m even playing hoop at Multnomah instead of training MMA at the gym for exercise. Another significant bubble is the married-with-baby bubble. We were in that bubble for a few years. And now we even do “Christian” youth theater (which has been absolutely great but not if goal is to interact with non-Christians)

    Eating, sleeping Christian culture by reading, talking, blogging ministry non-stop doesn’t help either.

    2) Taking time to put the Christian media down and take a peek outside the bubble would be a good start. Just reading the Oregonian and Blazer’s Edge has been helpful for me. Joining Facebook and connecting with some friends from the past is another thing that has been interesting and fun.

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  • AmyE

    I remember when my dad left church work … not of his own choosing … in a very painful, emotional way for him and our family. He eventually wound up working in a secular company … and I got the chance to be a temp there for a few weeks one summer. It was amazing to watch the ministry that he had a chance to be involved in just by being a caring, compassionate Christian. The people in the office came to him in droves … and not because he seemed pastoral .. quite the opposite … he was real, authentic, and made an impact on their lives. I told him that I thought he was having a more influential ministry at Waste Management, Inc., than he ever did in our church. I think too often our most enthusiastic, fervent Christians jump into full time ministry instead of evaluating whether or not they could have greater influence using their gifts and talents in the “real world”.

    • Tyler

      I totally agree with what you said. Obviously it is weird for me to agree with you since I work at a church and am going to school in order to work at a church in the future. However, I do think people just jump in because it is the only way they can do “ministry.” Everyone has a ministry, but few take advantage of it. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Yonas

    My post is of no use…maybe people just can’t relate. Please delete when you have a chance.

    • Tyler

      If you can explain to me how it is of no use then I’ll delete it. I thought you had some great points, ones worth reading for the people going through the comments.

  • Melinda

    Nope. My ‘bubble’ popped decades ago. Not sure I was ever really in one. Often found the bubble attractive though…

  • ronpai

    I don’t think Yonas was far off. The Bubble seems to only allow the “NC” in with the intention that they might say a prayer and convert (projects not people). Sad.

    The bubble is a clique. Cliques are hard to break into because you don’t understand the language, and they are hard to break out of because it is so comfortable and safe. i see a ping from my blog so I won’t go on (not meant to be a plug), because my answer is there.


  • Yonas

    Thanks Ronpai….sometimes I think I sound like a broken record..and not creating peace with my ‘whining’….maybe people learn to tune me out..I may not always say the most politically correct or spiritually correct thing….but I only speak from my personal experience.

    • ash

      if you weren’t, yonas, i’d be worried

  • Yonas

    Ah it’s strange that I didn’t see all the posts before (from Tyler…and of course…from my bud, Ash)…sorry for my temporary insanity there. Christian bubble/clique has always been one of my passionate topics.

  • Miranda

    There’s so much I want to say here but don’t really know how to begin. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer in the bubble and am afraid of being further judged by those in it. However, I do think that living in the bubble limits understanding of real life problems and the depth of struggles others may go through. The ability to relate on their level and fully understand without being judgemental is difficult if you’ve never been exposed to these sort of issues before. So it’s easier to just look the other way and invest in “easier” problems. Even if the ones struggling are former bubble occupants.

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  • mk457

    My bubble is burst right now, praying that I would have the courage to leave and bring people with me. Great post btw