Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

The red group

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A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.—Proverbs 18:24 (NASB)

The word “friend” gets overused these days, and it’s all Facebook’s fault. Everybody I’m connected to on Facebook is considered a “friend”, but here is a handy-dandy pie chart that describes most of my interactions with the 146 Facebook friends that I have.

That question is a joke. I know who those 77 people are. I just don’t care to “know” them. And for that 32% that I interact with only on Facebook, it is debatable whether they are friends or not. Most of the time I wonder if they are actually interested in the things I say there or if they simply tolerate it like they did in high school.

I think church is the same way. There is a yellow group of smallest number of people you actually trust, like “trust” in the way that you would confess sin to them or ask for advice for a spouse that is cheating or leaving or a teenager who’s pregnant… seriously heavy life stuff like that.

Then, there is that blue group of people who you know casually and might stop and say hello to in the hallways while you’re hurrying to the sanctuary or picking up your kids. You might ask about their recent vacation or if they saw the game last night, but you’re not going to tell them you were looking at pornography the night before while you’re in the nursery line.

Finally, there is that red group of people. Who are they? Who knows? Does anyone talk to them? Are they there just long enough to hear the benediction or are they listening to it as they dash to the car? Do they enjoy sitting in the balcony or are they there because they know there are fewer people sitting up there? Maybe they’re vampires? Do they even believe in God?

I mentioned yesterday about taking inventory of 2010. This year has been a great leap of faith for our family. 8 months ago, we pulled out of the only church that I and my kids have known and have been searching for a new home ever since. We’ve been looking again recently, and what has really struck me is that things are really different now that I am part of everyone else’s red group.

For that red group of people, consider what their pie chart is like. They know no one. In fact, their pie chart might be a big red circle of 100%. I can tell you that it is extremely tough to meet new friends at church without the church’s help. If there are cliques present or people who are unwilling to connect or leaders who are unwilling to connect people together through ministry or other means, then we are all just living in silos and struggling to do things on our own. I don’t think God ever intended for that to happen. Church should not be the loneliest place you visit during the week.

How many people walk by you at church that you don’t know? Is there a way you can welcome these people? Maybe it just starts with “hello”…

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