Think about your most meaningful friendships. How did they begin? How did the relationship deepen?
My guess is that it likely didn’t happen primarily through the slow accumulation of experiences but through a few memorable, intense experiences.
This is relevant to ministry leaders because we are often responsible to help people forge meaningful relationships (it’s part of equipping). In fact, over the next month or so, many churches will be kicking off new ministries, small groups, and serving teams. All of them will have a goal of (among other things) helping people build meaningful relationships.
How do leaders help people build relationships?
I’m a huge fan of microwaving relationships by sharing memorable experiences. If you give me the choice between taking a new small group member to coffee every week for 6 months or taking him to one baseball game, I’ll take the game.
If you want to forge stronger friendships among a small group, take them camping, do a service project together, or go to a concert. You’ll know each other better after any of those things than after 14 weeks of meeting as a group.
You’ll quickly bond over this shared experience, see each other’s personalities and strengths and weaknesses, and find out things that people would likely never disclose in a setting that felt more formal.
It’s a strange irony that focusing on building the relationship rarely does, while doing something else memorable often has the beneficial side effect of building a relationship.
Adversity helps too — A brief story
Nobody loves adversity or suffering, but it does often provide a platform for meaningful relationships to bond.
When my wife was pregnant with our second child, our home flooded from a pipe burst. Without family near by, we called a family from our small group that we’d been getting to know and ended up staying there for about a week. They are now some of our closest friends.
I would have never wished for a flooded home, but I’m thankful for how it built our relationship. We saw each other at our best and worst and lived to tell about it.
This is one reason why when leaders help people rally around those who are hurting, it has a side benefit of forming great friendships.
What’s a relationship you have that was microwaved through shared experiences?
(HT: Image Credit)