Our church has visitors attend every week. I love the fact that God is drawing people to our community and one of my favorite things to do every week is meet new people who attend one of our services. I know that for most of our guests, going to church is one of the most intimidating things they will do all year, and I want them to feel at home. One of the common questions I hear from people is, “How do I make friends at church? I want to get connected.”
Here are three ways to make friends at church:
- Be the one to initiate a friendship.
Some people are really extroverted and make friends easily but most people are somewhat shy. It takes an effort to develop new relationships, and most people are waiting for someone else to make the first move. Many people are frustrated in making friends because no one has made the first move. What I have found to be true is that to make friends, you have to be willing to initiate friendships.
The best way to do that is to say hi to everyone that you meet on a Sunday. Instead of choosing a chair toward the back, choose somewhere in the middle of the room or, even better, sit in the front. The most likely place to meet plugged-in people and leaders in the church is in the front of the room. If you say hi to them, they will most likely introduce you to other people. Move past a common greeting and get their phone number or friend them on social media and you will be plugged in quicker than you can imagine.
One of the very best ways to get connected at church is to meet the pastor after church. I know that some people may feel intimated and feel that they can’t approach him but in my experience most pastors are really interested in meeting guests. Pastors are normal people too, and you will be surprised to find that they love to talk to the people who attend their church.
- Be a part of the church’s existing process to make relationships.
You might be surprised to hear this, but most churches really want you to make friends at church. The reason for this is that most people grow spiritually when they have strong gospel friendships. Because churches want you to make deep lasting relationships in their churches, they have spent a lot of time and thought to come up with a plan to help you accomplish your goal of getting connected.
Churches connect people in a lot of different ways. It might be life groups, Sunday school, men’s or women’s ministry, or missional communities. But there will usually be some infrastructure created to help you get connected. Going through your church’s process is the most effective way to make relationships. One of the most frustrating conversations I have had as a pastor is when someone tells me they can’t make friends at our church but haven’t joined a group or gone to one of our connection events. Trust me, if you want to get connected, ask a pastor at your church how to get plugged into a community group and you will find friends quickly.
- Begin to serve in your church.
I have found that my closest friends at church stem from serving together in our church. Deep friendships don’t usually begin by running up to someone and saying, “I want a friend; you need a friend?” Friendships don’t work that way.
Instead, you bond by having a common purpose or interest.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says something similar:
The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our friend…. That is why those pathetic people who simply “want friends” can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends. Where the truthful answer to the question “Do you see the same truth?” would be “I don’t care about the truth – I only want [you to be my] friend,” no friendship can arise. Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominos or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.
If you want to make a deep lasting friendship, it must be more than simply about you or them. It must be about something else you both think is tremendous. Our friendships start by finding a common interest, whether that is music, movies or our current life stage. But the best relationships are created around serving Jesus together. Find a place to serve at your church, and you will make friends.
The last word that must be said about making friends at church is this: Once you have made friendships, don’t forget what it felt like to be new and friendless. Continue opening your life to people who need friends. In doing this, you will find that your life will have a lasting impact for the gospel.