Practical Help for Christian Friendships
Samuel follows up on the topic of Christian friendships and offers us practical ways we can live it out. He offers us some ideas and questions that we can ask of each other to deepen and strengthen our friendships.
Last week, Bibianna encouraged us all to press on and pursue our friendships with fellow believers in spite of some of our challenges and discouragements, because it is a good thing. As I reflected on the topic of Christian friendship and my own experiences of it, I realise that I have been so blessed to have had others walk alongside me and model that for me, such that I’ve been able to experience what a blessing this grace of Christian friendship that God has given us can be.
But as I’ve tried to pursue such friendships with others, one of the challenges that I’ve faced (and I’m sure even more so for others who have not had the privilege of seeing it modelled for them) is a fear of not knowing what to say or what to talk about if I do arrange to meet up with a brother to try to cultivate such a friendship – especially if it’s one-to-one! There’s no running away from having to talk and to engage in conversation. No talkative friends around to help carry the conversation. Perhaps you might be thinking: “How in the world am I going to fill 1 hour of meeting? I can barely hold a 5-minute conversation!”
I’m sure the thought of awkward silences and not knowing what to talk about have hindered some of us from reaching out to others and building Christian friendships. Well, thankfully, some parts of cultivating Christian friendships can be helped in very practical ways. I’m currently taking a class on Personal Spiritual Disciplines and one aspect of it is that I have to have an Accountability Partner with whom I have to meet for at least 1 hour every week. I was provided with a guide for our time together and have found it a great help to guiding the time I spend with my accountability partner. Perhaps it would be of practical help to you too.
Other than providing good questions to talk about, one immediate help that I’ve experienced using this as a guideline is that we have been forced to confront the difficult questions that we would normally be tempted not to bring up. But many a times, it has been these difficult questions that have brought friendships past a surface level, casual friendship to an intimate, deep relationship where we really know each other and can care for each other.
You can use the following guidelines to shape the format of meetings. You will not be able to ask every question on this list. Instead, choose those questions you believe to be most helpful for you.
1. Read part or all of a psalm.
2. Pray the psalm (Precious Practical Help for Praying the Psalms: Praying the Bible with Don Whitney)
3. Hear each other’s Scripture memory work (if applicable).
4. Ask fellowship questions of each other, such as:
- What is the best thing that has happened to you since our last meeting?
- Do you have any unusual burdens or troubles this week?
- How is your [teaching, hospitality, outreach, deacon, or whatever] ministry going?
- Where have you seen the Lord at work lately?
- What has the Lord been teaching you recently?
- Have you had any evangelistic opportunities lately?
- Have you had any obvious answers to prayer recently?
- What you have been reading? How has it impressed you?
- Where in the Bible have you been reading lately? What impact has it had on you?
- What is the growth point in your life right now?
- What are you passionate about right now?
5. Ask personal accountability questions of each other, such as:
- Have you been with a member of the opposite sex in a way that might be considered compromising or questionable?
- Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
- Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
- Have you spent adequate time in Bible reading and prayer?
- Have you been meditating on, and not just reading, Scripture?
- Have you given priority time to your family (if applicable)?
- Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?
- Have you lied to me in any of these answers?
6. Ask personal goal questions of each other. These are questions you may develop for yourself based upon individual goals (personal, physical, spiritual, relational, etc.) you have set for yourself for a certain time period (e.g. the first half of the year, or the next 2 months etc.), and for which you desire the encouragement of accountability.
7. Ask each other, “How can I pray for you?”
8. Pray for each other.
As you can see, these questions are not too difficult to ask, and are useful in a variety of situations. Asking these questions allow us to deepen the conversation and encourage one another in our holiness. It might be awkward initially, but the more we do so, the more encouraged we will be!
Who are the people that God has placed in your life? Who are you meeting this week? My prayer is that this would be of great help to you in your conversations too.
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