Since I began ministry in local churches and church planting, the one continual ache over time that people's hearts have expressed is the ache for friendship. A person can survive without friendship, but it just isn't good for us. In the creation account, as God looked over all He made at the end of each day, He would say, "It is good." You know what the first "not good" is in that account? When God saw that Adam was alone, He said it was "not good" (Gen. 2:18). There is much more to the Biblical story that points to the reality that we were made for companionship. God has an ultimate answer to fulfill that need (more on that in the message series), but even the Son of God leaned upon friends when He walked this earth. To say we only need God may be technically true, but it is not reflected in how God made us.
The points of concern about friendship that people often expressed to me, is that they realized, once they were out of school, making new friends is not always "just add water"-instant-friend-easy. Friendships add great things to our lives, but they will also cost us some things. Maybe we've forgotten some of the elements that help make a good friendship and it's time to look before the age of Facebook friends to remember those basic elements of friendship. I know I've been reflecting on this, as I've been attending a men's group on Thursday mornings, thinking about what has attracted me to this group and the new friendships developing. I've been challenged in the area of lifetime friends with ministry moving me to three different parts of the country. How have I failed some of those relationships? What will I do to maintain those friendships that I don't want to lose?
At Mountainside, we are extending a hand of friendship to those around us. One of the easiest ways for us to do that is through meals--picnics, small groups in homes, cookouts with our neighbors. If you invite a co-worker to lunch, it's a nice thing--but when you invite a co-worker over to your house for a meal that's a whole different level isn't it? It's an invitation to friendship. An FBI supervisor was making a hire, and he was checking a reference--a supposed friend. The FBI supervisor's test for knowing if the 'friend' really knew the applicant and could be a legit friend was by asking if the friend had been at the applicant's house, or vice versa. How would you do on that test? How many of your friends have been at your house?
Every week, there are two homes opened up for two small groups from Mountainside. There is a meal everyone pitches in for, and time to catch up on the highs and lows of the week (and open the Word, and pray for each other). This past week (July 26th) both groups met in the park and invited the city to join us for a movie in the park--and sixty some people did, and watched "The Empire Strikes Back" with us. After serving the town this past Sunday (every 5th Sunday serving is our worship), the Massey family invited everyone out to their house for lunch. One young lady, who has only been to Mountainside on a Sunday once before, joined us. These have been the times and places that we've been cultivating friendship and extending friendship. My hope is that we can do that in Jesus' name--and that each person can have friendship with Christ!
I hope for others to join us. I just don't think anyone has to walk this life alone. Join us in building community to reach a community centered in Christ!