COMMUNITY SERIES: 10 Ways to Break Into A New Church and Find Friends

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Uncategorized | 19 comments

How to find friends in a new church
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How do you make friends at a new church?

We’ve been talking about building community here on the blog in March, and one of the big questions that came out last week in our initial post on church community was how to break into a church that seems cliquey. So today I thought I’d tackle that!

First, though, I want to deal with two misconceptions:

Misconception #1: If a church is hard to break into, it must be an unhealthy church. 

Let’s think about this one. If a church were functioning as a real community, then what would you expect would be happening? People would flock to church on Sunday mornings hoping to catch up with the important people in their lives. They’ll have to check with Cheryl to return the borrowed maternity clothes; check with Rick about next week’s praise team practice; check in with Sandy to ask how her mom’s surgery went; check in with Lisa just to chat; check in with Doug to see if he still needs help organizing a volunteer team to go the hospice; check in with Janice to see if her daughter can baby-sit this weekend…etc. etc.

Maybe they’re not judgmental and toxic, maybe they are just all busy people, and this is their only chance to see their friends, so they’re all excited to talk and they have a million things to organize.

Rebecca’s church has sometimes been accused of being cliquey, but Rebecca’s take is a little bit different. She says:

Churches need to be welcoming to newcomers and be willing to open up friend groups. But sometimes when it’s not, it’s because the congregants are at church because they are, frankly, at the end of their rope emotionally and they just need their people.

I am a really extroverted person, and I make a concerted effort to talk to newcomers most weeks (it’s harder now that I’m upstairs in nursery with the baby!). But even I get tired sometimes. And church is the only place I get to see a lot of the really, really important people in my life and in Alex’s life. It’s the place I can talk to friends and just have someone “get it.” And on those weeks no, I don’t talk to newcomers. Because I’m running on empty and I just need my people. That’s not a sign of toxicity; it’s just a sign that we are all broken people searching for rest.

Our church is a place that historically people who have been hurt by other churches flock to. As a result, we end up with a lot of really close-knit families within our larger church family. And as a result of that, we can be rather cliquey at times (we are aware of it!). But you know what? That is not a sign of toxicity. In fact, in our case it’s a sign of the close bonds we have formed with each other–we really are like family. And unfortunately that does mean it takes a little more time and effort to break into some of the groups, yes. But it also means that once you are in, you’re in! And you’re then involved with a group that truly cares, actually checks up, and does message you if you’ve missed church a few weeks in a row because we genuinely care about each other. 

And also, even in “cliquey” churches people do break in (and frankly, if someone makes a real effort it usually doesn’t take very long). Connor and I are two of those people. When I first went to my now-church I actually left for a while originally because I didn’t feel like I was breaking in well–but then I gave it some more time and I am so incredibly grateful that I did. And it’s because I went many times, threw myself into serving, and honestly made an effort to get to know people as individuals that I was able to break in (and then later Connor joined when we started dating!). I’m not saying that cliques are a good thing–I’m just saying that if a church feels hard to break into it may not be a good idea to write it off as “toxic” without actually giving it a solid try.

Misconception #2: The healthiest churches have great welcoming committees

I am not saying that churches with great welcome committees or newcomer’s committees are bad. Some are awesome! But toxic churches that are very fundamentalist tend to have great welcoming committees, in order to get people in to small groups immediately and get them to commit to the church immediately.

Often we judge a church by the quality of its welcoming committee or newcomer’s committee, but that’s not very wise. Dig deeper before you give up on a church, but also before you invest too much into it (and be aware of the signs of legalistic, toxic churches, too).

If you decide a church is healthy, here are 10 tips to break in and find friends:

I asked on Facebook last week for some tips on how to break into churches, and I got some great ones to share today!

1. Process your hurt from previous churches

When you’ve been burned by another church, it can be hard to reach out. One woman confessed:

I stay on the periphery because I’m petrified this one is going to be like all the rest. And I really like this church.

If you’re finding that hurt from previous churches is making you scared you’ll be burned again, then read some books or listen to some podcasts of those who have gotten out of toxic churches. Make sure that you recognize that your old church was toxic–but the true body of Christ is not. Learn how to recognize the difference, and then trust. Beth Moore had a great thread on that last week:

So don’t give up!

2. Introduce yourself after the church service–even if you have to introduce yourself to a lot of people.

Monica tries the direct approach:

“Hi can I join you guys, I’m new here!”

Eventually you’ll find the right person!

Keep showing up, not just on Sundays. Introduce yourself. You eventually find me in the crowd, we become friends, I introduce you to the whole gang. Wham bam! 

Rebeccah

Yep. Find that person who looks like they’re in the center of everything, and get to know them:

And make friends with someone who likes introducing you to other people, and/or likes to organize events and invite people to them. 

Lyndall

Even ask the pastor!

Reach out to the pastor. We did when we moved and started going to a new church. He hooked us up with people that lived close to us and were in a similar boat as us and we’ve become great friends! 

Jessica

3. Watch out for people after church who look lost like you do

On the other hand, don’t ignore the lost ones. I love this from Heather! She writes:

Look for someone who:
1. Looks shy
2. Is standing on the outer
3. Is struggling with something
4. Is sitting or standing alone
5. Seems to be feeling awkward
6. Looks lost
7. Is elderly
8. Looks like they’ve never been inside a church before
9. Needs help carrying something
Sometimes conversations will develop, sometimes they wont, sometimes invitations or opportunities will arise and sometimes someone else just feels included even though you might be newer than they are. We make a mistake if we think we’re the only struggling person in the building <3

Heather

4. Join a small group your church offers

When we moved to Belleville back in 1998, I immediately started looking for a church that had a women’s Bible study in the morning, during the week, with baby-sitting. I found two, tried them both, and within two months we were regularly attending a church that I really enjoyed at the time. You need that chance to connect in smaller groups where real conversations can happen.

Find a small group to join if they have one. (ladies group?) Put yourself out there. I have moved a lot and have had the experience of being new many times. If you just wait for someone to come to you, you may be disappointed. Sometimes that does happen, and if so then that is great! But you can’t rely on this because then you’ll feel like people don’t like you if no one starts the conversation. Put yourself in situations where you are forced to talk to others, even if it feels very uncomfortable.

Lydia

My husband and I attend a large church in the Houston area. We attended for about 5 years and never made contact with anyone really. We decided to join a Sunday school class in our age group. We do monthly group activities and volunteer as a group as well. This is our church family. My husband and I are very much introverts so we both still have to make an effort to involve ourselves in the small talk before each class. I hate small talk lol. But we have both found some sweet friends in the process.

Erin

 I attended a church irregularly for almost two years and always felt kind of on the edge. I go alone, so I don’t stay after and chat with anybody and I only had a few acquaintances. Last year I decided to push myself to go regularly. I realized that all the people there were friendly, welcoming, encouraging, but my habitual behavior was to pull away and hurry home to my family. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to attend a couple ladies’ events. And in the fall I joined a small group. Best decision ever. I finally get the enriching and supportive community is the church as I opened up and shared honestly about myself.

I always said I loved my church and that it felt like home to be there, but actually attending a small group was like coming home.

Deanna

5. Show up at all church events, even if they’re not your cup of tea.

The more you show up, the more you’ll meet people!

And if someone does invite you to a thing, even if it’s not a things you’re super interested in, if your schedule allows it, go! Try it out. Even if it doesn’t work out, other people in the church will likely say, “Oh hey I saw you at the thing last week” and you have a conversation opener. Go to stuff you might not even be a “good fit” for, if the door is open. I go to a Mom’s group even though I have no kids, and it’s an absolutely lovely community. 

Lyndall

I started to just say yes to stuff. Joined an Adult Sunday class, attended wed night bible studies, and when invited to women’s events and small group activities, just say yes. Eventually, I became a part of the greater group.

Emily

6. Volunteer around the church and you’ll get a chance to talk with other volunteers

Don’t approach church selfishly. The people at the church are probably like you–with the same kinds of stress and issues. And church is their safe place. Though everyone should be on the look out for newcomers, sometimes people are tired and busy and they’re there to rejuvenate as well. Besides that, you really can’t make friends or deep connections just from small talk after church. If you want to break in, you’ve got to find ways to connect outside of Sunday service.

Volunteer at the church. Nothing breaks the ice like helping out even if you’re an introvert. I was to shy too just start talking to people because I didn’t know what to talk about with volunteering there is the common subject of whatever you’re working on. 

Korinne

For us we attended for 2 or 3 years not feeling like we fit. We both joined teams serving and now are very well connected in the community. Not just meeting folks on the team but the people we serve. It was really the turning point for us.

Hilary

My experience was offering to volunteer on committees or with events in church went a long way. Working closely with others meant getting to know each other and then friendship followed.

Gail

The best “small groups” I’ve ever been a part of weren’t even small groups. They were service teams. One was the praise team I led for several years. We knew each other so well, met frequently, and prayed together. We were quite different and didn’t hang out in the same friend groups, but we really knew each other.

The other was the Bible quiz team I volunteered at and later led. That’s where I met Tammy (who works for me) and Rochelle (whose wedding I MC’ed last weekend). That’s how my kids and I broke into a new church. And those volunteers are still some of our best friends. My husband still meets with Doug periodically to pray and challenge each other, even six years later.

Building community at church isn’t easy. But if it were, maybe it wouldn’t be real community?

7. Invite people to your place

If you just don’t get invited places, try inviting others! I would sometimes put pulled pork in the slow cooker early on Sunday morning, and have buns and a salad on hand before I left for church. Then I would just keep inviting people over for lunch until someone said yes. Pulled pork, buns, and salad is really easy and then it’s ready when you get back home!

I often find inviting people over for a board game night works well, too, especially for groups of people. Many people love board games, and it’s an easy, low-stress way to have fun and get to know people without awkwardly sitting around wondering what to talk about.

As a mom of small children, I keep it low key, I’ve invited families for popcorn and hot chocolate! As long as I’m upfront that a full meal won’t be included, I don’t stress about food and it makes hosting sooooo much easier. 

Suzanne

8. Don’t give up until you have a “date”

I absolutely love this from Kirsten:

When I felt the most isolated, I made myself list 10 women who might say “yes” to going for coffee with me. Then every Monday I would force myself to call 3 of them and make a coffee date – often a month in advance (life, you know) but unless they really put me off, I would attempt to find some day that would work. With some women, it’s still a once-every-six-months event, but others it has become a regular thing. I don’t reach out well for help, so making sure I have scheduled friend-time is huge for me, and by now I almost always have 1 or 2 coffee dates scheduled weekly and if I don’t, then I know it’s time to start making those Monday calls again.

Kristen

Last year I was doing the same thing with once-a-week lunches (which reminds me–I should do that again!).

9. Remember that it can take several months to feel like you belong–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

If you want real relationships, with authenticity and vulnerability and give and take, that doesn’t happen overnight. You want trust to build up naturally. If it builds up too quickly, it may actually be a false intimacy where everyone wants to appear happy on the outside, and that’s not healthy, either.

Sarah even says it can take longer:

Also, know that this takes time! You really have to give it a few years before you’re going to feel like you belong, even among a group of welcoming people. Don’t give up or get discouraged.

Sarah

And it’s worth the effort! Community isn’t just about what you can get; it’s also about what you can give.

That’s what Holli says, too:

Be the change you want to see in the world….for me that means start inviting others to our home or to coffee, etc. Show up early and stay late. So many times I have made it about me. It’s not about me it’s about the gospel and that doesn’t change when I change where I worship. We read in the Bible that Jesus went, not Jesus waited for others to approach. Expect to be let down and hurt but realize the love and gifts God created you with and for are meant to be poured out as a drink offering. Being an offering to others brings peace and encouragement and hope to the new church family you belong to. We were bought with a price. I want to happily give back and I find it easiest to do that in a church setting! We will be known by how we love each other.

Holli

10. Shake the dust off your feet and move on to another church

What if you’ve done all of this, and it hasn’t worked?

I just left a church like this. I was there for 2 years, invited people over, initiated play dates and moms nights. I called, texted and talked to everyone. I even hosted small group for a semester. Sadly, nothing ever changed and when I got really depressed over Christmas I had to be honest about what I was doing at a church that wouldn’t reach out to a single mom who was struggling over the holidays. 

Alyssa

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, people really don’t want to invest in each other. In that case, it may be time to find a different church where people are interested in community.

Building community at church isn’t easy. But if it were, maybe it wouldn’t be real community?

I’ll let Bethany, a military wife, have the last word because she sums it all up so well:

You can’t just expect people to reach out, sometimes you have to make the first move. We invite people over for dinner if it looks like we’re clicking, we write down new names we learn each week to hopefully remember them the next Sunday, and try to remember little facts about people. We also get involved. We serve, we join a small group that is child friendly as we have kids, we bring meals to families who are sick or have new babies or feeling overwhelmed. Intentionality. We know we NEED that fellowship and friendship and we work to get it. I also pray. Everytime we move I ask the Lord to send me 3 friends – one friend who is older than me and can guide & mentor me, one close dear friend who I can connect with and share things with, and one friend who is younger than me who I can teach and mentor. (Sometimes there end up being more than this, but I pray for 3) As I keep my eyes open for who those people might be if I see someone I feel like I’m being led towards I ask them for coffee or a playdate to get to know them better.

Bethany

I love that, especially her rule of 3. If we all did that–imagine how much better our community could be!

Which ONE of these tips should you be using this week if you want to build more community? Find one that resonates the most with you, and do it! And tell us in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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19 Comments

  1. Liesl

    I have always had poor social skills due to being an the autism spectrum. I have tried an incredible amount to improve my social skills and be nice to people, but all my efforts eventually fail, especially at church. I feel let down by the church because they are judging me for something I can’t help. Sure I am always good enough to stand in for someone else at tea duty, but when I never get invited to people’s birthday parties or other events like other church members.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Liesl. This is a good reminder to all of us. I think I may be guilty of something like this, too.

      Reply
    • Rebekah

      Liesl, I am also on the spectrum and I’ve had a difficult time at church, too. Usually, it’s not because people don’t approach me, it’s because they are too friendly. Talking a lot and being hugged just overwhelms me.
      However, no one seems to want a deeper relationship with me. People ignore me when I Invite them to coffee.
      I’m a caregiver and I’ve found that church is easiest when I’m watching a church service with one of my clients.

      Reply
  2. Ash

    I have been on a “get healthy” kick the last year. Your website has helped me so much with this! And part of being healthy is having community. I think if you are longing for this, you are a huge step in the right direction, because it is easy to isolate and not seek community. But,
    If you want to be healthy and grow- dig in! These ideas are awesome! We recently moved 2,000 miles away and I prayed for a friend. Well, this boy was walking his dog by my house and the dog wrapped his leash around me 🤣 and the mom came up to help and introduced herself and invited me to her bible study. Well, I have been three times… and just like that, God gave me 7 friends! They are all so sweet and encouraging!!! And they go to the same church, so my family went and loved it. It is hard being in a new place, but the Lord is so faithful to provide His family. Don’t be scared to try these new ideas! If I would have been too scared to go to the Bible study (and I’m an introvert, I get it!) I would have surely missed out! Be brave!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      What a wonderful story, Ash! Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  3. Jessica

    I haven’t ever searched for a church as an adult, my husband joined my family’s church when we got married and we’ve stayed there. I am really OK with this. But, we have had to navigate the waters of getting connected and figuring out what we want friendships to look like. Such fun. Also, did not realize as a young adult that the aforementioned navigation never stops, it just changes form and players.
    I appreciated your first point above, because we’re in a Sunday school class at our church, that has a core group that’s been together since fall 2005 when we were all engaged or newly married. Many couples have come and gone in that time, but there’s about 7 or 8 couples (including us) that have been in that class for all or most of that time, and while we really aren’t like a tight group that spends all our time together, we have shared a lot of history together. And I can see how someone could come into our class and think, these people have known each other their whole lives, is there really room for me here? So there’s a delicate push and pull between, a thriving church will have people who have close friendships and long-standing relationships and lots of shared history (and this is GOOD and you should want this!), and a thriving church will also have room for others to join the fold. I think it can be a challenge to have either without the expense of the other.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! I’m glad that others see this reality, too. It’s not that we’re deliberately trying to be unfriendly; it’s just that close community does have a history of close bonds, and that’s why it can be hard to break in. It’s up to those who are connected to let others in, but sometimes others do have to make an effort, too, and you won’t have the easy camaraderie and friendship that others have who may have built it over years.

      Reply
  4. libl

    My husband and I recently left a healthy church full of friendly people in part because, after 5 years, we couldn’t seem to get established. It was the same groups, the same cliques. While they didn’t exclude people, and sent out invitations for church programs and fellowships, it never got beyond the typical “first time greeting” feeling.
    What added to it is that because it was he same people group that planned everything, it worked around their schedule. Thus, most events happened when we couldn’t attend. It was also very community-oriented, so the youth programs revolved around the school district schedule. With my kids in a different district with a much different schedule, my kids couldn’t get plugged in.
    Yet another issue was that while the parents were friendly, most of the kids were indeed cliquey. We joined in hopes of our kids making friends. 5 years later when we left, my kids still had no friends. My daughter even asked a girl to be her friend and the girl said no.
    The church encouraged acceptance and opening up about our struggles, so I bravely explained my social anxiety disorder and how fellow parishioners could interact with me. I explained that my body language might indicate disinterest, but I really do want to chit chat with you. It just takes me a little longer to unfold. Well, after that speech, I had 1 Sunday where 1 person made an effort, and after that I was largely ignored.
    One thing that hurt the most was my husband ended up severely ill and could have ended up brain damaged. He was hospitalized. Not one person from our church visited him. In fairness, the assistant pastor made an attempt, but nothing more. The only person to bring us a meal was a Catholic woman I only met once or twice at a local event. No one called. No one messaged.
    When we left, we initially were unsure of leaving, so we took a silent leave of absence. No one called. No one messaged. We haven’t been there for 6 months, now, and not a peep.
    My husband has helped out a lot of the men there with no helping hand in return. We had several emergencies last year, and not a thing from the church. Yet, they helped other people.
    While I can be a tough nut to crack sometimes, I know, even with my best, bravest, and strongest efforts, I could not break through that invisible wall. No one even attempted to move past “greeter” or “acquaintance.”
    And it wasn’t just me. Most of my kids, and my husband are extroverts. My daughter can make friends with anyone, and yet we just couldn’t seem to connect with anyone. At worst, my kids were ignored by the other kids, and I caught some kids talking about and teasing mine behind their backs. No wonder my kids asked to quit going to children’s church and my daughter would just curl up in the corner of the pew, nose to notebook, and doodle, or hold onto me or her daddy for dear life.
    I’ve not only switched churches, but made a complete 180 denominationally. I go to a church of sacred tradition and reverent worship, now. I’m done with Country Club churches.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      libl, it sounds like that was just the right thing to do! There’s a big difference between a church that is “cliquey” because people know each other and have great community, but they’re open for more, and churches that are “cliquey” because they want things easy and have no interest in adding others.
      Your experience with your daughter is one I can relate to, too. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me with a church about 13 years ago was that my daughters didn’t have friends, even though they had grown up there. The youth group wasn’t a healthy one. We switched churches and they plugged in right away, and it was a great experience for them for several years. Sometimes you try, and it doesn’t work, and you have to shake the dust off of your feet.

      Reply
  5. Arwen

    For me as a single woman i have found that large/mega churches are far more welcoming place to be. Although i’m an extrovert and get along with people so well, the smaller churches 100-200 congregation tend to be very, very cliquey. Church is already taken up by a majority married folks and singles are not openly welcomed. The smaller the church the more obvious that you’re not welcome as a single person, since everything is set up and geared towards the family.
    However, in mega churches they have so many programs available that anyone in any circumstances can attend. The only downside with mega churches is that you only get to know the circle of friends you make and everyone else at church you don’t due to the sheer size of the attendants. Either way i prefer mega churches now since they’re far more accepting of singles, and meeting other singles is also much easier.
    To be honest with you the way the church is set up it is much easier over all for families, especially married women to make friends there. They have husbands that provide financially for them while as a single i’m at work 40-60 hrs. a week. Mostly working overtime to makeup for the married folks who can’t work the extra hours. As a result outside of Sunday’s it’s impossible for me to get together with church folks!
    I’m trying really hard as an extrovert to build friendships with people at church but it’s very, very hard as a single person. There is a reason why so many single people, especially single men, don’t even bother coming to church. Thousands of articles have been written on this because people do see the disparity and do notice how unwelcoming the church is for single people. The only reason why i haven’t personally given up is because i’m extremely extroverted but i can see how those who aren’t give up easily. It can be very frustrating.
    For now i can only do what i am able to do. Which is attend a mega church and plugging into their available programs on weekdays, which are very few, because again the church is mostly for families and families rest on the weekdays. It’s like this cyclical thing that never ends. Unlike married folks who rely on one spouse to support them we single people don’t even have free time to hangout during the week. Our jobs consume all of our time. For now i’m doing the best with what i have. The structure of the church seriously needs to change though. Thankfully a few are taking notice and taking the necessary steps to be more welcoming to single people.
    I appreciate all these tips.

    Reply
  6. Anon

    Our church is tiny – 30 max – and while it is limiting in many ways, it does have some strengths, one being that new people just CAN’T get overlooked. If you are in the service, then you have to have seen the new person unless you are actually physically blind. And you notice when those who are usually there are missing too.

    Reply
    • E

      My church isn’t much bigger, but they are horrible at welcoming people sometimes and also getting in touch when people are out. We left for 6 months and never heard a peep. We did come back because other churches were no better and we liked their children’s ministry. It has been getting better. I try to welcome people and personally invite them to other services. When someone mentions so and so being missing I try to speak up and say you should contact them when you think about them. That is the Holy Spirit prompting. We n do to stop assuming someone else is contacting them, that someone else is bringing them a meal etc. Assume it’s not being done!

      Reply
  7. Wendell

    This can be hard to discern, but sometimes their is nothing wrong with the church or the visitors. It can be the Lord’s way of saying nothing wrong here it’s just not where I want you.

    Reply
  8. Bethany

    I’m not comfortable with leaving my baby in the church child care until she’s 4-5. So until she can handle sitting quiet, Im not going to be able to get anything out of joining a life group. I’m filling out the paperwork for volunteering to help with the kids and be there with her, but I’m not sure how much that changes things. I’m working on having family members over and learning how to host. I’m figuring it out as I go!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I spent a lot of time volunteering in the nursery and toddler area when my kids were young! I made some great friends in those days. It can still be quite rewarding.

      Reply
  9. Heather

    I find myself in somewhat of the same boat, even though we have been attending our Church for 16 years now, I even work at the church. But through a series of circumstances, out of my control, I find myself without that close community. I feel like I am starting over, and the fact that I work at the Church, and everyone knows who I am, (I handle all registrations, and attendance, and anything that needs to be made/copied/produced in some way) I find a lot of people are reluctant to open up to me, and as a result I am hesitant to open up to them. It is a good church, and we have no plans to leave, but I am lonely at the moment.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s too bad! I know pastors’ spouses often feel that way, too. People don’t want to befriend the pastor’s family because then others may know too much about them, or you assume that because everyone knows who they are, then they must have tons of friends/invitations out, etc. But in reality, often they’re the loneliest.

      Reply
  10. Barbara Stephan

    Our church isn’t perfect but what sort of churches are these that ignore people? And I saw not one comment or concern about whether the Word was being taught and preached rightly. Of course we want a church where we feel welcomed and cared for- but are we in this for ourselves or to be taught the Word and seek ways to glorify and serve God?

    Reply
  11. Louisiana

    A word to those who are members of tight-knit cliques and longtime friend-groups in their church. Never is a Christian LESS like Jesus than when they deliberately, or through indifference, omit people from their group, or refuse to reach out to newcomers. There is nothing wrong with having a friend group, but when that group becomes impenetrable to others that need a friend and may not have an outgoing personality then that should not happen in any church. Years ago when my daughter was in youth group at our church a new worship leader arrived with his wife and four daughters. Three of the four girls were (are) more outgoing but one was incredibly shy. All had musical abilities, two of them especially, on piano, guitar and drums; (one sister was in a certain famous female Christian singers worship band and is still now that singers closest friend. I won’t name the singer, but her initials are L. D.)…. I noticed how shy the one sister was. What made it more evident was that all her siblings were the opposite of her…My daughter had noticed but didn’t think too much about it. My daughter is more extroverted so she didn’t always identify with the introverts. But still she pretty much got along with all the kids in the group. I didn’t just stand there and say nothing. I’d notice the girl standing on the fringes when around the other young people, and usually alone, so I talked to my daughter and asked her to reach out to the girl, but to allow her to connect at her own pace. I myself am an introvert, and it takes me time to bond with someone. But once I’m a friend, I have your back. You can confide in me and I’ll do my best to not betray your confidence. Sometimes those who exude charm and confidence, and the gift of gab, don’t always turn out to be the best of friends. Anyway, my daughter befriended this girl and she started to bloom before our eyes. Little by little this girl came out of her shell. My daughter sought her out at each youth event, and introduced her to others, and this shy girl, although she remained shy to a degree because that’s her basic personality, started smiling, and holding her head up, and it was obvious that she’d needed that one good friend she could count on. Introverts don’t need a lot of friends, we much prefer 2 or 3 true reliable friends than many mere acquaintances and shallow relationships. A more outgoing person just may not get it. It’s not easy to fit into friend groups that are already formed. On the other hand, as parents, it’s up to US to teach our kids how to treat people. To this day the two girls (now grown women) still try to keep in touch although they’re both married with children, and although they live too far away from each other to get together. They now rarely see each other but that’s because of distance. But I’m so glad God had me take notice of that painfully shy young lady, and He’s the one that had me talk with my daughter and get her to see what I saw, and reach out to this young lady and make her feel welcome. What if no one had noticed, or worse….noticed, but didn’t care. How we treat people is important. Even if we’re not meant to be close friends with every person we come in contact with, everyone is carrying something we may not know about. Just reaching out to someone who always comes to church alone, then ends up sitting alone, or who isn’t necessarily outgoing or doesn’t join all the groups because they don’t want to risk not feeling welcome by cliques and longtime friend groups, makes all the difference in the world. Jesus would actually look for ways to include the “least of these” so why is it so common for the church as a whole to be just as exclusive as the world is and sometimes more? And I’m not saying compromising our biblical values in any way. That’s not what I mean by implying we should be less exclusive and more “inclusive”….that’s such a ‘politically correct’ term I almost hate to use it. But hopefully you get my drift; the more we allow a newcomer into our circle, the more chance they’ll stick around, and get to know us, and what we stand for. And the longer they feel welcome in our church the more chance they’ll have to know Jesus, because they’ll see the fruit in our lives, and they’ll want that for themselves.

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