You already know where I stand. One look at the life of Jesus and we clearly see he didn't isolate himself or his disciples from the world or society around them. I think his actions were completely intentional not just for ministry (it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy) but for training his disciples for ministry. In fact, I devoted an entire blog post to this aspect of Jesus' training approach in The Crux of Discipleship.
I was serving as a "missionary on campus" one semester when I was in America and I re-took the Perspectives class. (If you have never taken this course I completely recommend it!) We had one guest speaker who is a big-name Seminary professor there. He taught and at the end of the class was asking what is it really going to take for us to win our communities for Christ. People gave a few Sunday-school answers about loving people more and getting out there and sharing our faith with non-Christians. Most of the answers were basically about doing things more and not differently. Then the professor said that his problem is that he spends all of his time around Christians.
That comment hit me like a rock and while I understood his situation and all, I felt that something just isn't right. I'm sure countless Bible college professors, preachers and ministers could say the same thing: They spend all of their time with Christians and people in the church. And without realizing it they are unintentionally discipling all of their Bible college students to graduate and do the same thing.
I was reading a book by a well-known pastor in Dallas and he told a story about a conversation he had with a non-Christian lady on an airplane. I was thinking that it seems like I've heard hundreds of stories by preachers and Christian authors about their conversations with people on airplanes. Then it hit me--when such people fly it is the only time that they have meaningful contact with people who are not Christians or who are not a part of the church community.
And so I'm thinking that all of our "big guns"--preachers and Bible college professors--are found only deep within the Christian community, and they're teaching all of the "little guns" to go out there and evangelize while offering no example and giving the reason/excuse that they don't spend any time around people who are not Christians.
Is Satan laughing, or what?
Jesus didn't spend all of his time around those who didn't need him the most. Maybe it was because his heart was to really help people far away from God. Maybe it was because he wanted his disciples to have experience doing this kind of ministry so it wouldn't be such a foreign concept to them after he sent them out. Maybe it was both.
Salt doesn't have much use if it's in the salt-shaker most of the time.
How can we do things (church, discipleship, Bible training) differently (not just better) so as to infiltrate the world with God's people and not isolate ourselves from the world?