Monday, November 2, 2015

Making Friends for Jesus

Have you ever stopped to think why you are friends with the people you are friends with? And why was it so much easier to make friends when you were in school than it is now? It is sad, but one of the reasons many Christians struggle with the idea of soul winning is because they don’t know any lost people. O, sure, they might know their lost neighbors (they might) or they might encounter a lost person working the checkout at a grocery store, but what are the chances of success with people who are barely more than strangers?

I’ve been thinking about the concept of repeated spontaneous contact. It seems that friendships are not particularly mysterious; we make friends with the people we spend time with. Those people you hung out with in the hall in college before class? It wasn’t hard to be friends with them. If you want to make friends, you need repeated spontaneous contact. But how do we do that?

Some people are looking into changes in the way we do housing to achieve this. Maybe there’s something there, but it seems a little drastic. Creating walkable communities is a good idea, but that isn’t a solution for sharing the gospel with the whole world (just to the rich folk in walkable communities). Also, people in rural communities have repeated spontaneous contact just because there are fewer stores and entertainment options.

People who are involved in church have repeated spontaneous contact. By “involved” I mean that they are working in some ministry or participating in something like choir. Just attending church won’t do it. But people in choir are friends, just because they see each other frequently. But again, that doesn’t translate well into preaching the gospel. We expect that the people involved in church have heard the gospel many times and the people we want to reach are those who have not. We need repeated spontaneous contact with people who are lost.

Public schools are a great place for that. Ironically, that is why many parents choose to homeschool or enroll their children in private schools. They don’t want their children associating with lost children and teachers. But even if it is just a few minutes waiting round to pick up the kids from practice, parents have opportunities for repeated spontaneous contact with teachers and other parents.

For those of us without children, or who have reached the stage where they have moved out on their own, spontaneous contact becomes much less repeated. The question becomes, what can we do to make it more frequent? I don’t have a good answer. I only know that I need one. I get out and ride my bicycle in my neighborhood. While I don’t really know many of my neighbors, there are several that I see out and about every evening. There’s a lady who walks her dogs that I’ve spoken to once or twice, but I couldn’t tell you her name. There’s a guy who rides his bicycle at about the same time as I do. One guy keeps telling me he’s going to ride with me, but he never has. It is repeated spontaneous contact and it is friendship of sorts, but not enough. We must find a way.