Do you have close friends at your church?

I think we all should have close Christian friends, but not necessarily at our church (although it is nice, ideally, IMO),yet we should have people  in our church with whom we are friendly and familiar, friends but not necessarily close ones.  There are pros and cons to this, of course. And, by friend, we are not counting immediate families (okay, cousins and more distantly related people can count).

So let's talk about what is and then you are free to comment on that or upon what you believe should be.

 

No, I have no close friend or even people I consider friends
4% (1 vote)
No, I have no close friends but some friends.
36% (10 votes)
Unsure.
0% (0 votes)
Yes, I have one close friend in my church.
11% (3 votes)
Yes, I have more than one close friend in my church.
50% (14 votes)
I used to have a close friend(s), but not now.
0% (0 votes)
I haven't been in my church very long, so none of the above apply.
0% (0 votes)
Other
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 28
4399 reads

There are 19 Comments

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Not only do my wife and I have more than one close friend at our church, what we find is that when friends leave the church, over time, we seem to get together less and less with those friends.  Our lives are so centered on our church, that that's where our close friends really are.  Even one close friend I have from college who lives about .5 miles from me, but who attends a different church is someone I just do not see that often any more.

We do have neighbors that are friends, and I have one unsaved co-worker that I consider a close friend, but our friend "pool" comes mostly from the church.  We try to reach out to develop relationships that can lead to evangelism, but we've found that rarely do those develop into friendships that are as close as the people we spend the most time with.

Dave Barnhart

Jim's picture

These conversation starters with a friend at church ....  (you don't actually need to "do them"):

  • Friday night my wife and I went out to [ ... some incredible restaurant ...] and we had an amazing bottle of [ ... be really creative but convincing here .... like "Napa Valley Vineyards .... XXX ... Cabernet Sauvignon ... ] wine with our prime rib. OR
  • Saturday we went out to see [ pick some movie that is playing at your local "plex"]. Of all the movies we've seen this year ... this one was one of the best. OR
  • Pick virtually any "fundy taboo" ... could be playing cards for example. These are not things in the doctrinal statement ... just the secret code things from the list of what real Christians don't do (learned from a sanctification list from their Bible college.) ....  
  • Then based on their reaction ask yourself ... is this person a real friend. 

----- 

As an aside we invited a friend to a church we've attended. Our unsaved friend makes his own wine. It was interesting as he told a church acquaintance about  his hobby. 

 

Mark_Smith's picture

So if a person has a conviction that in 2015 there is no reason for a Christian to drink alcohol, he can't be a faithful friend? Explain yourself please.

If a person thinks that a believer shouldn't support the family destroying industry that is Hollywood, they can't be a faithful friend? I need an explanation of that.

 

Jeremy Horn's picture

I'm not going to speak for Jim or exegete what he said, but I do want to give my opinion on Jim's suggestion. I would love to try it sometime in order to gauge their reaction. I don't mind having close friends with differing convictions, but a person's reaction to questions like Jim's will tell whether or not they are real friends. I believe Romans 14 comes into play in this situation. Not playing with regular face cards can be a legitimate application of the command to be holy, but it is not the command itself. If I tell a fellow church member that I enjoy playing Euchre(a card game for anyone who might not know) and they react as if I have broken one of the 10 commandments or denied the Virgin Birth(ie calling me to repent, etc...), then I know they are not a real friend.

Jim's picture

I made the mistake of telling a church friend that we (my wife and I) went out to see Wall-E 

She thought I was making some sort of environmentalism statement  For me it was a fun date with my wife. 

GregH's picture

This is an interesting topic to me because it goes to the heart of a problem I think we are experiencing today where people seem more and more incapable of just getting along with those of different viewpoints. It is probably bigger than fundamentalism. I saw a study comparing today to the 1950's in regards to politics in particular that illustrated just how polarizing issues are now compared to the past. The theory was that people can now find all the people they want just like themselves through Facebook so they are not actually forced to get along with people of dissenting views anymore.

That being said, I do think it is worse in rigid IBF circles. Just go into your next Sunday School party and start asking questions about something like moderate drinking, old earth creationism, whether there will really be a rapture, and music and watch how uncomfortable people will get. You will be labeled a liberal in no time and that is a shame. Thinking for yourself should not be a crime but it sort of feels like one. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

GregH,

I think a big part of that division you recognize has to do with the relative positions of the two (or more) sides today. For instance, I see this at work in political history. Prior to FDR, both political parties sought very similar general goals on the majority of issues. What they fought about was the best way to reach their goals (means to the end). Democrat FDR's plan to use government spending to get us out of the depression was exactly the same plan Republican Hoover tried to implement, FDR just went bigger. However, over time, the two sides have slowly begun seeking diametrically opposed goals which is a much bigger issue than means to an end. I think society was formerly much more homogenous and faced fewer divisions of a lesser nature than today.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

This type of conversation (and my comments on this thread) are the very kind of conversations I find unable to have with church friends.

Why:

  • Because there is a group-think with one answer AND / OR
  • The conversation would gravitate towards straw man (might take the form as below) AND
    • Jim advocates drink! OR
    • Jim drinks himself! 
  • In our circles the pastor has a view and his view holds sway by nature of his position AND
  • Those who disagree tend to viewed as dangerous to the flock
Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I don't worry about what people think of my choices. If they think I'm dangerous because my kids read/watched The Hunger Games, my dd and I are Joss Whedon fans, my kids start working outside the home at 14, we eat gluten-loaded bread slathered in real butter, or that we sit around at the dinner table debating how we would survive The Zombie Apocalypse... in the immortal words of Cher Horowitz, "Whatever".

It's amazing to me that folks can apply such dire moral and ethical implications to something like using essential oils or driving an electric car. I reuse Ziploc baggies - which club does that get me into? 

What people avoid is making judgments based on actually character issues, like honesty, trustworthiness, compassion, self-control, financial responsibility, a work ethic, patience ... instead it's stuff like movies and wearing a tie to church. As if.

I have wonderful friends from many walks of life who I share interests with - a few of those are at the church we've been visiting, some are in my homeschool support group, others are from childhood, high school, college, work, and the internet. But a 'close' friend to me means 'confidant', and other than one childhood friend, my family - husband and kids - are my only close friends. 

I think having friends in your church is a good thing, but IMO everyone needs a few people in their lives who can challenge them. Friends are those who always have your best interests at heart, and it's fairly easy to spot who those people are. 

 

AndyE's picture

GregH wrote:
That being said, I do think it is worse in rigid IBF circles. Just go into your next Sunday School party and start asking questions about something like moderate drinking, old earth creationism, whether there will really be a rapture, and music and watch how uncomfortable people will get. You will be labeled a liberal in no time and that is a shame. Thinking for yourself should not be a crime but it sort of feels like one. 

Greg, This cuts both ways.  In less rigid IBF circles, if you were to bring up certain dress or music standards, people will get just as uncomfortable and quickly label and shun you as a legalistic pharisee.  

AndyE's picture

Jim wrote:

These conversation starters with a friend at church .... Then based on their reaction ask yourself ... is this person a real friend. 

I wonder if this is the best way to demonstrate love towards others in the church who hold to more strict convictions regarding these things than you.

Ron Bean's picture

Setting aside a few long time friends from whom I am geographically separated (and Jim Peet, whom I have never met), all of my close friends are in my church. I have acquaintances at work with whom I am friendly, but my close friends are fellow church members.

That has not always been the case. I was in an independent fundamental ministry for nearly eleven years (a place I refer to now as "The Village") in which I had just one close friend with whom I still communicate freely. The place was noted for discouraging close friendships because they were seen as a threat to the leadership. 

Thankfully I'm currently in a fundamentally sound church where diverse opinions are tolerated and questions about "issues" are encouraged. We have Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats (Gasp!), BJU grads, a barista, and a brew master. Some people think our music is ultra conservative; others think it pushes the limits. Some people raise their hands; some people sit on them.

I'm a happy man. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Larry Nelson's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

Thankfully I'm currently in a fundamentally sound church where diverse opinions are tolerated and questions about "issues" are encouraged. We have Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats (Gasp!), BJU grads, a barista, and a brew master. Some people think our music is ultra conservative; others think it pushes the limits. Some people raise their hands; some people sit on them.

I'm a happy man.

At the church I've been at since 2000, many of the usual things that fundys fight about are basically non-issues.  You won't find any major friction in the church about these:

Music: We have both traditional (choir, organ, piano, handbells, etc.) and contemporary (guitar, bass, drums, etc.) services.  The majority of our folks are comfortable attending either, but for those to whom it really makes a difference, they have a choice.  What unites everyone is a belief that God is infinitely worthy of our worship and praise.  Nobody fights over it.

Timing of the Second Coming: Our Statement of Beliefs doesn't specify either pre-trib or post-trib.  We have people who hold to both beliefs.  What unites everyone is a belief that Jesus is coming again; we just differ in our belief of when.  Nobody fights over it.  (Meanwhile, another Baptist church locally recently had a multi-week series on Wednesday nights to "prove" why pre-trib is the correct, biblical belief.)

Timing of Creation:  We have both YECs & OECs in the church.  In our library, you'll find Ken Ham's monthly Answers in Genesis magazine.  You'll also find some books that clearly hold to a OEC view.  What unites everyone is a belief in Creationism.  Nobody fights over it.

Alcohol: We have many who believe in abstentionism and many who believe that moderation is biblically acceptable.  What unites everyone is the belief that drunkeness is a sin.  Nobody fights over it.

School choice: Our students go to public schools, secular private schools, Christian schools, and/or are homeschooled.  If anyone looks down on anyone else based on where they have chosen to educate their children, I'm unaware of it.  Nobody fights over it.

I could go on, but the bottom line is that we (by-and-large) do not concern ourselves with non-essentials.  I have friends (close friends even) at my church who believe differently than me about some of these (or other) non-essentials, and yet at my church they are still friends.

in contrast, at the church to which I belonged from 1980 to 2000, EVERYTHING seemed to be an essential.....and if one didn't hold to the "right" belief, then LOOK OUT!

 

Jim's picture

Several years ago friends got an old wine crate (it's about 20" x 30"). They filled it with items from Trader Joes and gave it to us as a Christmas present. In the box: maple syrup. pasta of various kinds etc. The now empty wine crate (it's nice looking with French looking words on the sides) is in a junk pile in my garage. I had a fundy friend visit the house and as often happens in the winter time in Minnesota friends come in through the garage. Well that wine crate caught his attention. With some church friends it's jump to conclusions first ... and have to explain it to them carefully later. 

The opposite of thinking the best about a person

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

In my experience, true friends will think the best of you, not jump to conclusions, and won't cease to be your friend even if they have strong convictions that you do not, or vice versa.

However, disagreement on major items will definitely limit a friendship, just as it limits true fellowship.  I have a couple unsaved friends from my hang gliding club that I get along with pretty well.  However, their views on things like abortion, "equality" in marriage, etc., put a barrier between us that will always be there unless they are converted.  As a result, my friendship with these men is not as close as with those with whom I am in substantial agreement on major issues.

In a church, one generally assumes that any long-term attenders are in agreement on the majors.  However, if your church "friends" are the type that would accuse or turn away from you based on minor disagreements, you have the wrong friends or maybe even the wrong church.
 

Dave Barnhart

Mark_Smith's picture

The story you tell about the wine crate is pure judgmentalism. It is unacceptable.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jim wrote:

These conversation starters with a friend at church ....  (you don't actually need to "do them"):

  • Friday night my wife and I went out to [ ... some incredible restaurant ...] and we had an amazing bottle of [ ... be really creative but convincing here .... like "Napa Valley Vineyards .... XXX ... Cabernet Sauvignon ... ] wine with our prime rib. OR
  • Saturday we went out to see [ pick some movie that is playing at your local "plex"]. Of all the movies we've seen this year ... this one was one of the best. OR
  • Pick virtually any "fundy taboo" ... could be playing cards for example. These are not things in the doctrinal statement ... just the secret code things from the list of what real Christians don't do (learned from a sanctification list from their Bible college.) ....  
  • Then based on their reaction ask yourself ... is this person a real friend. 

----- 

As an aside we invited a friend to a church we've attended. Our unsaved friend makes his own wine. It was interesting as he told a church acquaintance about  his hobby. 

 

Jim, I have had friends or even casual attenders say things very much like the above on a number of occasions. One deacon talked about a new winery that had good wine. Many of our  people go out to movies frequently and I teach people card games in our "Jesus Lodge."   True, I would not have gotten away with the Jesus Lodge 30 years ago.  But -- at least in this area -- the generation that held such things has mostly died, and younger generations are more concerned about things that REALLY matter -- like keeping their marriage together, their kids off drugs, and figuring out how to deal with a trans-gender family member.  In ye olde days,I think, Christians invented things to make them seem different from the world, thus the reasonable restrictions (and restricting alcohol does have some reason and statistics behind it) and the trite (and sometimes silly, IMO), restrictions.

Maybe our church is different, but, as far as I can tell, we qualify to be called fundamental (although I do not know that we necessarily want to be called that).  I suspect the problem may be more one of churches that pressure their people to pretend to be what they are not.  One of the blessings of a more relaxed church is that you can reduce the separation of the secular and sacred, freeing people to be themselves and actually communicate honestly. We are all different people (in some ways, not talking about convictions) in different environments.  If we walk into a church door and have to put on a costume of solemnness, we can lose the more common version of "us."

Anyhow, brother, I understand your frustration.  I am just saying it is not universal in churches that are doctrinally fundamental.

 

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"