Monday, May 7, 2012

Shallow Church Relationships

The Seven Levels of Intimacy

According to Matthew Kelly there are seven levels of intimacy. He describes them in his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, as they relate to couples. The principles however, apply to any relationship and any number of people. He describes succinctly how those of us who work with people in relationship understand intimacy: mutual self-revelation that causes us to know and be known. The principles could be applied to families and organizations – particularly the church.

The levels do not function as discrete modes of intimacy but intermingle at any given time, situation, or relationship. The seven levels described are:

(1) Clichés (“Pretty hot out there today, isn’t it?”)

(2) Facts (“Nasty accident on the road by the convenience store on my way home.”)

(3) Opinions (“I think the decision to change the date for the meeting is wrong.”)

(4) Hopes and Dreams (“Someday I’d like to own my own restaurant.”)

(5) Feelings (“This gray, rainy day has drained my motivation.”)

(6) Faults, Fears and Failures (“I am so messed up I can’t even make up my own mind.”)

(7) Legitimate Needs (“If you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me. I need to be loved even after you know my dark side.”)

In this blog series, each of these will be explored as they relate to church relationships.

Many relationships, from casual acquaintances to long term committed partnerships, don’t advance past level three or four. There are a lot of people who would argue with me on this point, but if you ask people who deal at a professional level with relationships, they would agree. I have watched it in couples who have been together for decades – and these same people would report that they have a ‘deep relationship’. Relatively speaking, they probably have as deep a relationship as they can without some further guidance – maybe even as deep as it can be because of other issues – but we can always go deeper.

So what does this look like among church members? How does it benefit the local church or the church universal? How does a pastor nurture appropriate intimate relationships among their congregants? The next few blogs in this series will look at these questions as the seven levels are explored as they pertain to churches and their congregations.

1 comment:

  1. An awesome analysis of "the way we are."
    This blog should generate a lot of learning for clergy, a lens with which to view congregational life, and a valuable resource for clergy-care.