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An “echo chamber” refers to a group of people who gather together around a similar ideology and listen only to their perspective. It’s like a pep rally where everyone is cheering for the same team. Sounds great, right? But should your church be an echo chamber? If it is, then you’re probably missing the mission.

  1. Church should be a place where you clearly teach God’s word and elevate Christ. Christians undoubtedly have an ideology shaped by the Bible, and we should make no excuses for it. But the longer you hang in Christian circles, the harder it is to relate to those outside of the circle. And pretty soon, you have an “echo chamber” on your hands – a place where everyone already believes everything you’re preaching. And you’ve lost your sense of mission.
  2. Christians need to develop the skill of “outsider speak”. That’s the opposite of “Christianese”. The church has always existed for people outside of it, so learning “outsider speak” is a must – first for pastors and then for every Christian in the church.
    • For me, in my preaching I have to discipline myself to think about my neighbor who doesn’t go to church, rather than that long-time Christian who is looking for something “deep”.
    • In an echo chamber church, everyone “amens” my theological points. But that’s simply a sign that everyone already agrees with what I said. I’m interested in the people who don’t agree yet. I want to help them get to the amen. But that’s a process.
  3. Mentoring relationships are the ultimate antidote to echo chamber Christianity. That’s where you learn to speak the truth in love, which means you speak the right truth at the right time. You can’t blow someone away with a monologue when you’re mentoring. You have to help them discover truth in the context of a relationship, one topic at a time.
    • For me, my one-on-one mentoring helps me to be more aware of other perspectives. That makes me a more effective preacher.
    • In a healthy church, everyone has mentoring relationships like that. Everyone is in the game, slowly helping people pursue God.

And that kind of church isn’t just an echo chamber. It’s the church Jesus envisioned – where people who are far from God are being invited to pursue him.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Name some arenas in culture that are “echo chambers”. How can you know if your church is one
  2. Why do you think churches and small groups have a tendency to become “echo chambers” over time? Can you give an example where that didn’t happen?
  3. Try to use “outsider speak” to explain the gospel. How would it sound with “insider speak”? Which one is more effective for helping non-believers?
  4. Give some examples of how Jesus used “outsider speak”.
  5. How does one-on-one mentoring helps you to be more aware of other perspectives? Can you give an example?
  6. Name a person in your life (or church) who would benefit from a mentoring relationship. Are you willing to be the mentor?

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