Beyond Friendship Evangelism.

Mark van Steenwijk writes,

“Intentional friend-­making” is different than “friendship evangelism” because the goal of friendship evangelism is to share your faith with your existing friends. I highly encourage that. That is a great thing. But the problem is that if we stop there, we never move beyond our (usually homogenous) circle of friends.

“Pay attention to where people hang out. It could be a coffee shop, it could be a bar, it could be the park, or the library, or a diner, or the local community center. We should try to spend our time more and more where neighbourhood people spend their time…

“It isn’t enough to spend time there, you must engage people there. This is where it gets sticky for some. We don’t naturally make friends in public places like that, thought it is socially acceptable. Many people hang out in ‘third places’ because they want to connect with a neighbourhood or with their neighbours. These are the general rules of social interact I have discerned:

1. if you see someone at your favorite place a few times, you have permission to give them the ‘nod’ of recognition
2. if you’ve recognized their presence a couple times, it is socially ok to say ‘hi’
3. one you’ve said hi once or twice, it is ok to make comments like “beautiful day,” or “is that a good book?”
4. after you’ve broken the ice, you can introduce yourself
5. once you are on a first-name basis, you have permission to have a normal conversation

“here’s the thing: most of us follow this sort of interaction in settings like school or at church, but we need to realize it’s ok in other settings. If you are a bolder person, you can skip steps… Those who make connections in this way will be able to graft them into a network of friends; in a church community only a handful of people need to be doing this for the whole church to be making new friends.”

From Next Wave, October, 2005

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