It was July 2003 when the moving truck pulled up in front of our home in Smyrna, TN. I had only been there a year and a half. They boxed our belongings, loaded them up and took off for Shakopee, MN. My goodbyes were brief; having been there only a short time I didn’t have any real close friendships, but even so, I was now going to have to start over.
As we got settled into our home, I started to think about how I would make friends here. We heard that Minnesota had the highest retention in the United States of people being born here and staying and that it was difficult to break in and make friends.
At that time in my life, I was on a journey of growing from a church attender to understanding the Gospel and becoming a follower of Jesus. I remember having a thought one day that it would be good to have some Christian friends. I don’t know where that thought came from, but it sounded good!
In Genesis we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together in relationship during creation. We read of their conversation as God prepares to make us in His image. As they are in relationship and we are created in God’s image, we are made for relationships!
We began our journey at Friendship Church. Would I find some Christian friends here I wondered? How would I go about it? I searched the church website constantly looking for a way to get connected. I didn’t know what to do or how to go about getting started.
Then there were the announcements in church about the Alpha course, about joining a Cell group and there was volleyball. I signed us up for everything! It was wonderful. I was meeting people and getting to know them. I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
So, what was important about having these relationships with other believers? God’s word has much to say about this. Here are a few of my favorite verses.
Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
James 5:16a – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…
Fast forward 17 years…how have these friendships impacted my life and why would I encourage you to make connections with other Christians?
For most of my life I feel like I lived seeing in gray. I had no strong feelings or convictions about many topics. My flesh, friends, co-workers, tv shows, and news greatly influenced my thinking and my decision making on a very wide variety of topics including marriage and parenting. Gossip and complaining were a very big part of my life. I don’t remember ever taking anything I learned in church into consideration.
As I became connected with believers, we studied the Bible and prayed together. We talked about decisions we were making and what God’s word said about them. We laughed, cried, encouraged, played and served together. We provided for each other when there was a need. We helped each other to respond and interact with others in a way that glorifies God and is obedient to His Word. I heard other people’s faith stories and my faith was increased. People encouraged me as I learned to read the Bible and started to pray out loud. We talked through sin and struggles, with prayer and accountability. We rejoiced together and grieved together. I was loved and supported through the death of my sister and dad.
I can’t imagine life without a group of Christian friends to be deeply connected with.
How about you? Who are you connected with? Who are you doing life with? Do you have a group of people that are helping you to grow in your relationship with Jesus? Do you have people that will help to hold you accountable? Who walk with you in love and without judgment? Who encourage you and pray for you regularly?
It can take a bit to find that group but let me encourage you that it is so worth it, and we would love to help you! Come to Friendship 101 where you can find out more about Friendship Church, get to know our pastors and staff and let us help you take steps to get connected. Attend Friendship 201 where over the course of several weeks you can journey with others to learn more about our faith. Real community is built during this course. A LifeGroup is where we hope that everyone at Friendship Church will land. There are many available to choose from. Check the website friendshipmn.org/nextsteps/ to get more information on all of these options.