Monday, November 06, 2006

How do you create close friendships?

Americans are starving for close friendships. This is particularly true with men, as 90% of American males say that they have no close friends. So in churches, the concept of "community"--which is a biblical concept--has a great ring to it. We hunger for community.

But how do we create these close feelings and close friends? Friendships come through shared experiences. And for men, close friendships are usually developed through doing things together. Witness the number of men who show up at a church "work day." Men need a mission, and when they do things together, they draw closer together. C.S. Lewis said that men bond better by doing things side by side, rather than face to face.

This has great implications for how we do life groups. Many churches have life groups that meet and try to create close friendships by "sharing." There is a definitely a place for this, but a constant dose of this is off-putting for many introverts and many men. By serving together, doing community projects and the like, many will draw together in ways that are even more memorable. You can view this distinction as the difference between a family meeting time and a family vacation. The latter will usually draw a family together more.

What are some experiences that have drawn you closer to others? Road trips? Short term missions? Vacations together? Other?

4 comments:

marcus said...

As one of the 90% I can identify with this topic. And while I have yet to take advantage of the opportunity a work day provides it would definatley benefit me more than a sit down face to face.

However, having said that our Friday morning Men's Study Group at the church is a great tool and different because it is all men, there by choice, and wanting that connection.

Another tool I prefer is short retreats. Mark Walker mentioned this in his class Sunday morning and it reminded me of the bonds I've formed in the past, but lost because of how frequently my job has caused me to move. And even though technology has allowed us to stay in touch it still takes time, work, and being a priority.

Your correct, it comes down to shared experiences. And I believe those that make us the men we are will draw us closest together.

James said...

Marcus,

Thanks for your thoughts. I think that the men's study group is a great thing too, and it points towards the missing element that most men feel missing in their lives. For many men, this study and reflection will be more meaningful while doing service together.

Retreats are a great thing because it gets us out of our element. This unusual shared experience is similar is a bonding experience. And often, it is the road trip itself that is the most bonding part of the retreat. Or playing basketball or ping pong together. Doing things!

One of the geniuses of the Mormons is their going out two by two on mission. While they don't reach many people in their door-knocking, they are drawn together through this experience. They become disciples of their faith.

Jesus sent his disciples out two by two. And I'm sure as they went into hostile territory together, they were forced to pray and study about how to approach their mission task. And by doing mission together, they drew far closer together than any sitting around and drinking coffee alone could ever achieve.

Norm is planning a great men's retreat this year for us. You might give him your ideas.

Norm said...

I might also recommend the Family Fun nights scheduled for the 3rd Friday of every month at 6pm. It can be a fun and bonding time to share with other members of the church as well.

James said...

Thanks Norm!