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Friday, June 01, 2012

Be where the People Are

It’s impossible to connect with people if you aren’t with people. I know that’s such a simple statement, but the truth of it is important. You must be around people to make connections.

If you’re happy with the number of friends you have right now and you just want to continue developing those relationships, that’s fine. You don’t need to create any more connections. But, if you want opportunities to share the good news, you need more friends and they need to be outside the church.

You won’t make non-Christian friends by going to church more.

In fact, at the risk of being labeled a heretic (or worse), I think it’s a good idea to go to church less. Look at Jesus – he prioritized people over religious services. He knew that meeting a woman at a well was more important than going to the Synagogue again or getting together with a doubting Pharisee at night was a better use of his time than going to the Temple.[1]

You won’t make connections if you don’t meet new people.

The odds of new people walking through the door of your church are slim. A few will, but not too many. And then the odds of you having a connection with those people is even less. Connections are often based on shared interest and you can’t know what the visitors are interested in. It’s absolutely a good idea to be warm and welcoming to visitors, but that’s not an ideal place to look for new connections.

Go to where the people are.

This doesn’t mean that you should go to the mall and hand out bible tracts. That’s probably the worst way to form connections with people. You’re immediately creating a relational barrier by challenging their belief system from the outset. What are the odds that you’d want to be friends with someone who met you and immediately told you that you’re wrong about everything you believe? I know I wouldn’t be too thrilled with that approach.

Be a ‘people.’

Be the kind of person you want to meet. Be the kind of friend you want to have. If you want to meet people, be a ‘people.’ Activities like handing out bible tracts or knocking on doors to invite people to a church event are barrier creators – you instantly set yourself apart from them. Instead, think about how you can be with them.

What are you already doing? You’re a neighbor. You might be in a club or a group. You might be a parent of students. You might be a business owner in the community. There are things you are already doing that give you connections with people. Talk to your neighbors. Make friends with the people in your club. Connect with the other parents. Join the local chamber of commerce.

How can you be where the people are?

[1] I know that Jesus wasn’t choosing people over the Synagogue or the Temple in John 3 and 4. However, he did consistently place people above religious observances and locations (i.e. eating grain on the Sabbath or the widow’s two pennies that led him to explain how the Temple would be destroyed).

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