Making a friend can be hard. Well, for some of us it can.
In fact, I recently heard a friend say that at the school he went to there was a required non-credit course about how to have a conversation. This made me laugh because I thought it was ridiculous.
And then, and then, and then…
And then I realized how poor many of us are at having conversations. And then I realized how many of us really stink at making friends. And then I realized how poor many of us who claim to follow Jesus are at creating a real friendship with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus.
Stuff got real, real fast.
How good of a friend are we?
Tonight I was reading Growing Local Missionaries: Equipping Churches to Sow Shalom in Their Own Cultural Backyard and in it Dan Steigerwald makes an amazing point. Here it is:
I am convinced that a big part of the Church’s missional formation across America must now involve getting back to the most basic level of motivating and equipping Christians to have natural relationships with normal people! That is a pretty startling reality. (61)
Did you catch that? He is saying that we followers of Jesus really don’t know how to make friends in this world where we live.
So, what do we do in response to this?
Step-by-Step Guide to Making a New Friend
Welp, here’s some helpful advice from missional thinker Mark van Steenwyk (from his article called “Incarnational Practices” in Next-Wave from October 2005; found in Growing Local Missionaries by Steigerwald ). Oh, and by the way, this framework could probably have been from my friend’s class on how to have a conversation. It goes like this:
- If you see someone at your favorite place a few times, you have permission to give them the “nod” of recognition (or subtle waive).
- If you’ve recognized their presence a couple times, it is socially ok to say “hello.”
- Once you’ve said hello to someone once or twice, it is ok to make comments like “hey, it sure is nice today” or “is that book you’re reading interesting?”
- After you’ve broken the ice, you can introduce yourself.
- Once you’re on a first-name basis, you have social permission to have normal conversations with them, and things develop from there.
Is it just me, or is it sad that we have to have a guide like this in order to know how to make a friend with someone different than us? What do you think?