Maybe you just moved to a brand new city for college or a job and you are starting from scratch. Maybe all of your friends have moved away and you are having to start over with building a community. Maybe you have never really had a great, life-giving community, but it’s something you long to experience!
I wanted to share a few tips I have learned over the years of growing this kind of community. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I realized how desperately I craved these kind of friendships and I was finally willing to put myself in uncomfortable situations to acquire them. It worked! After 2 years of living in beautiful community where we loved, served, and encouraged one another in our walks with the Lord, many of these friends moved away and I am back to building stages once again. I’m encouraged to see that the things that were true when I was first finding a good community are still true in this season, so I hope they help you build deep relationships in whatever season you are walking through!
- Say yes
I can’t tell you how many ridiculous nights have been spent at home, sad and wishing I had friends to spend time with, only to receive a text inviting me to a social event and thinking mmmm….. nah… before responding “Sorry! I already have plans!” Seriously, don’t be your own worst enemy! Even if it isn’t an event you would normally enjoy or people you don’t foresee being besties with, just say yes! In the season of building community, be quick with your yes and thoughtful with your no. Obviously, for many parts of life that is not the best advice; but when it comes to making friends you won’t get far by always being the person that says no. When people reach out and invite you to things that means they care! If they continually are rejected by you, they likely will stop reaching out and you may miss out on a really great opportunity for friendship. Additionally, you may be really surprised by the people who you become friends with. Some of my best friends are people I never would have expected to become close with, but because I gave them a chance an incredible relationship was born!
- Invite people in
Building relationships works both ways. Just like you have to be willing to say yes to invitations you receive, you need to be generous with the invitations you extend. It is so scary to invite people into your life and not know how it will be received, but you will majorly reap the benefits if you are willing to take this risk. Sure, you might get a no here and there, but more than likely the people you are reaching out to feel exactly like you and will be so encouraged that you took the initiative to pursue them! Inviting people in doesn’t just mean inviting people to events though. Inviting people in also means inviting them into your personal life by sharing your story, beliefs, and thoughts with them. It’s vulnerable and scary, but it’s worth it!
- Reach out
This is similar to inviting people in, but as you start to develop community and form friendships, make sure you are reaching out to others who might be in a lonely place. There are always going to be people who are looking for community and don’t know where to begin, so make an effort to be aware of those people and help them find a place. There is something incredibly beautiful about a dynamic community that is constantly changing as people leave and move on to different places and other people enter in. Sometimes these changes are tricky to navigate, but in the long-run they create the healthiest kind of community!
Hopefully you find these tips helpful in making friends and building community. I would love for you to share some of your own tips in the comments!