Eating out alone is uncomfortable for me. I feel awkward, as if I don’t know where to look other than my food. I don’t want to people watch that seems rude, though people fascinate me. I usually have a book to read when I’m travelling and will bury my head in its pages at airport restaurants. I rarely eat out alone when home.
Gathering with family or friends around a table, whether at home or at a restaurant for a meal is more than nourishment for our bodies. It’s nourishment for our wellbeing. Interaction with others in a safe and friendly atmosphere brings us a sense of belonging, a sense of caring about each other, it helps us to bond. It helps friendship to blossom and grow.
We see the same thing in churches every weekend before the meeting starts, people sitting with heads buried in their phones or the church bulletin avoiding eye contact. Not because they don’t want to be friendly, rather because they feel uncomfortable being there alone or unknown.
Some arrive late on purpose to avoid the awkwardness of not knowing anyone, yet wanting to be there, and they promptly leave when the service have ended. Another week has gone by and they are no nearer to making friends with their fellow believers than they were when they first started attending. They come to visit the family and go away feeling ignored.
When we invite people into our homes we want them to feel welcomed and comfortable. We want them to feel at home, we want them to know it’s okay to lose the shoes and get comfy on the sofa. We want them to feel safe, relaxed and know they are with family. We want them to interact with the family as family, not sit with their heads buried in a book or phone feeling disconnected.
When I first attended the church I’m planted in, there was about 150 people at that particular campus. It was easy for them to notice that my husband and I were new there. Those sitting around us welcomed us with genuine warmth and each week we got to know more and more people. The church has grown over the last fifteen years into what some call a mega church.
Friendship begins with an invitation; invite someone to be a friend by being a friend.
When you attend a large church you are not going to know everybody, you are not going be able to invite everybody out for coffee. So how do we make friends in mega church? Same as you would in a smaller church. Start by connecting with those around you. Get to know their names. Make a point of talking with them before or after the service. Invite them to the small group you attend. Invite them out for coffee. Do it all with genuine love and interest for the other person. Value them, they are real people who God loves.
“Acknowledging the value of a soul plants in us a seed of willingness to build others up, encourage others, and call the greatness out of them.” Rick Bezet
When we value people as God values people we will see their worth as He does. When they see that we genuinely care about them, they will put down the phone and the bulletin and begin to interact; could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Don’t stop at only befriending those in your church, look outside. Show them the same love you show the person in the next pew.
Just as lotions and fragrance gives sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs27:9
Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance
What does Friendship look like for you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box either through the blog site or on Grace Lace and Polkadots Facebook page.
The month of August I will be doing some giveaways, starting with Rick Bezet’s book Real Love In An Angry World: How to Stick to your Convictions Without Alienating People. Be on the lookout.
Hope your soul is refreshed this week with friendship!