We sometimes get very comfortable in our seat at Church. I’m not talking about just on Sunday, but the comfort we develop with Christian friends. We find ourselves hanging out with them at our weekly Bible Study. They are the ones we call when we want to go out for supper or to see a movie on the weekend.
It’s hard to fulfill the Great Commission if we only hang out with other Christians. We have to expand our ring of friends to include some new ones. This might be too obvious, but you need to start by looking outside of the Church. Most of us have contact with a lot of people day in and day out. Most are acquaintances, but not really friends. So, how do you develop a friendship with these people?
Keith Ferrazzi wrote a book in 2005 titled, Never Eat Alone. Ferrazzi states that we can become invisible by staying in the background. And while his book is meant to help you climb the success ladder by making contacts, the principal is similar for Christians. We must make the effort to reach out to others, taking the initiative to get to know others better. We all know (especially Christians) that a great way to fellowship is by breaking bread with someone. There is an intimacy that occurs when you eat with someone. You relax and share experiences and emotions with each another. That being said, begin asking acquaintances to go to lunch, or for a cup of coffee. This may be a co-worker, a neighbor whom you haven’t gotten to know, or someone from the gym.
Once you’re there, what do you say? After all, you barely know this person. Focus your attention on them. Ask about family, where they work, what they do at work, do they enjoy it, what hobbies they have. Don’t make it feel as if you are interrogating them, but be genuinely interested about wanting to know more about them. This is a take and give conversation. What this means is that you want to find things that you have in common, sharing experiences and joys with each other. As an example, you may find that your new friend likes to hike, a recreation you also enjoy. Share some of the better places you have found that you enjoy. This may be a state park, or maybe a trip you took to a national park. Whatever it is, find something you can each relate to, giving you common ground.
What if you have nothing in common, and honestly, don’t seem to agree on much. Don’t feel that you have to make this work. Not everyone gets along with each other. Truthfully, there are folks in the Church you don’t necessarily like. It doesn’t mean you can’t love them or care for their needs, you just don’t mix well. If this happens with the first person you ask out, don’t stop. Just because this happens once doesn’t mean this will happen with everyone. Keep growing your circle of friends. Once you’ve built your relationship, it will be much easier to talk about Christ with them.
A word of caution here. Be careful that an individual doesn’t drag you down. What this means is that you don’t compromise your morals in order to build this relationship. If you don’t feel you are strong enough to do this, don’t hesitate to have another Christian friend with you. There’s an old saying that it’s easy to get pulled down when you are trying to give a hand up.
Here’s your challenge; in the next week, ask someone to go to lunch or to coffee with you. Again, if it will make you feel more comfortable, take another friend with you. Make sure they know what your intent is, encouraging them to reach out, too.