The world can be a lonely place. With changes in our culture over the last 100 years, we’ve gone from staying close to home and relying on family and neighbors; to often dealing with life on our own.
For many people, finding a true, geographically close-to-home friend would be a miracle.
Most likely, finding someone like that has to begin with us taking the first step. As Jennie Allen says in her book, Find Your People, “We’re all just waiting for connection to find us. We’re waiting for someone else to initiate. Someone else to be there for us. Someone to make the plans or ask the great questions that bring about soul-bearing connection and friendship.”
True friendship doesn’t naturally happen as a result of sporadic connections with acquaintances who also have really busy lives. We have to be willing to be a part of people’s lives. That funnels into three or four great friends whom we know and who know us.
This may very well need to start with you.
I have noticed that people in ministry tend to have hundreds of connections. Often, people feel like they know you well – you’ve been there for them, they’ve heard your thoughts, they listen to you speak, and more. But when push comes to shove, ministry leaders can have a hard time naming geographically close friendships.
“We have replaced intrusive, real-life conversations with small talk, and we’ve substituted sobering, deep, connected living with texts and a get together every once in a great while because the superficial stuff seems more manageable and less risky.”Jennie Allen
Outside of Jesus, relationships are the greatest gift we have on earth and simultaneously the most difficult part of being alive. We must be relational because God is relational.
How will you take that step toward making connections that grow into an intentional community? Here are a few ideas:
Join a Small Group
“Small Group” has almost been a buzzword for local churches in the past couple of decades. But it’s more than a new-fangled concept. Intentional small group living among believers goes back to the disciples. About 250 years ago, John Wesley formed small groups as a place for people to be disciplined and connected. These groups grew into thousands of Methodist Churches around the globe. I’ve been in numerous small groups. I can say firsthand that my faith grew and friendships flourished. Some of my close friends today are a result of those seasons of meeting in small groups. I’m still in a small group today.
Though it may not be easy, take a risk and connect with others. Take a pizza to someone’s house; and score bonus points by stepping inside to have dinner with them, according to Jennie. Take a risk by inviting someone to have coffee or stopping by his/her home. See what type of catalyst your risk may become. There’s a good chance the person with whom you’re connecting is also desiring deeper community and friendship.
Clock Hours Together
I like the author’s phrase about clocking hours together. Unless we have serious time spent together, we won’t have memories, stories, nicknames, and shared experiences. I have witnessed this on numerous occasions. I have seen connections grow deep during summer ministry together. It’s more than an hour-a-week small group meeting. We’re together in constant community for meals, riding in the van, and serving through music. I have seen countless friendships and connections form as we’ve clocked hours together over the course of a couple months in the summer. Find ways to get together and clock hours. Friendship and community will grow out of it and they won’t grow without it.
If you’re really searching for your community, you must make yourself available. Free up space in your life, respond to the invitations that come your way, and respond positively to requests – even if there’s no way you can take part due to a scheduling conflict.
Take A Step
What will your first step be toward building a deeper community in a lonely world?