Recently I was in a discussion with a man from my church who said to me, "I feel like I don't have any friends at church. I don't understand why! I come to Sunday morning services weekly and try to say hello to as many people I can see. What do I need to do?"
What a great question! Essentially he was asking the question, how can I build relationships with other people in the church? To answer this, I like to point people to the five "V's" of building relationships:
1. View of Self.
You and I desperately need to understand that we are sinners who have been shown grace in Christ. When we place our faith in Jesus, He graciously forgives us of our sins (see Eph. 2:8). When we remind ourselves of the gospel we are reminding ourselves that there is nothing good in us and that we are not better than anyone else. Therefore we don't walk around thinking that others are 'below us' in the sense that they have less worth than us. Instead we walk in humility with others knowing that there is nothing in us that is good and that all that we are alive because of Christ.
2. Vacuous (Empty).
Because we have a proper view of self in the gospel, we must be empty ourselves of any pride. As I heard a dear friend once say, "Being full of oneself is a formula for pushing others away from us." Proud people do not attract people. People who think that they know better than everyone will find themselves disliked by everyone. Instead, we should remind ourselves of the gospel moment-by-moment so that we might "in humility count others more significant than ourselves" (Phil. 2:3).
I'm convinced some people do not have deep, meaningful relationships simply because they are not vulnerable. They do not open up about what they are thinking, how they are feeling, or even how they struggle with sin. Instead, they put on a stoic image of self-sufficiency. Afraid to reveal their wounds, they hide behind their layers of insecurity and pride. We should be people who can easily be approached by people about our sin as well as a source of comfort and care where people know that you listen to them and genuinely want the best for them (Pro. 18:2).
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver" (Prov. 25:11). People that build relationships well are those who speak the right words at the right time. They don't talk for the purpose of hearing themselves talk. Instead, they seek to lace their words with truth and love so that their hearers might be encouraged (see Eph. 4:15). Are you someone who seeks out people for the purpose of encouraging them and getting to know them? Or are you someone who expects people to do that for you while never budging yourself?
This is key. If we desire to build relationships with people, we must be visible. In other words, we need to unveil ourselves to gatherings. Rather this is a worship service, social gatherings outside of church, or another form of people meeting together, you must make these a priority.
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Lead Pastor Resident at College Park Church in Indianapolis, 'Tweeter' at @brad_merchant, and avid reader of books.