Building Relationships might be my favorite of the Signposts along the Discipleship Pathway. This is the Signpost that feels the most natural to who I am. I am an extrovert and LOVE getting to know people. I could surround myself with strangers for hours, and I would find so much joy getting to know all of my new best friends.
Now I realize that many of us are dramatically different, and that’s a great thing! While this particular Signpost comes easier to me than others, you might be thinking that others are more in your wheelhouse, but Building Relationships is a marker of a developing, maturing disciple. What’s great is that 78% of churchgoers agree that they have made significant relationships at church.
When I think of how to build relationships, my brain quickly goes to Acts 2:42. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” How quickly you find things in common when you spend time with each other! Here are four areas where you can build relationships with others.
To find common ground with others, first devote yourself to the apostles’ teaching—the Scriptures. Then, simply look around you in your congregation and introduce yourself to those sitting around you. Immediately after the service, you have a common ground to discuss the message or sermon you just heard. Comment on something you found interesting, and listen to their response.
Now that you have a new best friend, find a time to get together with them outside of church. I am quick to set up a coffee meeting, knowing that I will get about an hour to get to know them a bit more. What makes them tick, where are they from, how did they end up here, and what are their dreams—these are all fun questions to get to know them.
Now that this has been the best coffee of your life, you need even more time with your new best friend! This is when you dive a little deeper and you invite them to a meal. This can be a home-cooked meal at your house, or if it’s easier, swing through a restaurant. The important thing is to spend more time with them. Long ago when I was a youth minister, there was a family that would open their house to all of the crazy youth staff members for dinner. EVERY WEEK. Some of my favorite memories and deep discussions were around that dining room table. We truly got to know this family. We have laughed around that table, cried around that table, and prayed around that table. They have continued to use their table as a springboard into ministry with their family.
Finally from Acts 2:42, as we’ve progressed from the least vulnerable to the most intimate, they prayed together. Knowing where others are struggling and being open and vulnerable with them allows you to truly know each other. This allows you to lean on each other in times of struggle. Building relationships that are this deep allows you to celebrate with each other in times of praise. And sometimes, those are at the same time. My wife and I struggled for years with infertility. We had so many of our closest friends praying that God would deliver a child to our family, and when He finally did, we were able to celebrate with all of our friends. We were able to share all of the praise with so many people!
Acts 2:42 provides a great structure for us to build relationships. Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research says, “One of the ways a believer shows they have love for God is by investing in other believers. The relationship isn’t just about mutual interests; it is about proactively being interested in the faith of others.” It’s about so much more. It’s not about going through the motions of Acts or ordering the perfect cup of coffee, it’s about caring about the eternity of everyone around you.
My prayer for you is that you will look at the people that are in your life already. Look to your coworkers. Look at the people that are in your life that have little reason to be. Look at the people that need you in their lives. Build true, deep relationships with those around you.