Is friendship important to you? It is to me. Why do you make friends? Are you making friends to share Christ and invite people to your church? Are you making friends so your church will grow? If you are, let me say that when you do, you’re not making friends – you’re making sales contacts.
You see, if you’re making friends with some ulterior motive, you’re not making friends. Not long ago, I heard a Pastor share with his church, ‘you should make friends with people so you can share the Gospel and invited them to the church.’ He also added, ‘if they reject you three times walk away from them.’ When I heard what he said, I was confused about how he was defining friends and friendship.
Any time you approach anyone with an ulterior motive, you’re not approaching them with an open and honest heart; you are not seeking to make a friend. I have had people seeking to be my friend so they could add me to their Multi-level marketing endeavor, and church should not a multi-level marketing ploy.
Not long ago, I meet a guy who I thought was a great guy. After talking with him a few times he invited me over his house for a party. When I arrived, the party was filled with people who seemed like great people, people I thought I could be friends with. Just as we started to gather together to eat, the Amway pitch came out. Most of the people were part of his “Amway Team” and he wanted me to join the Team. When it was evident that I was not interested, they started to ignore me, they started to pull away from me. What bummed me out the most? I like them, and I would have liked to have stated the process of friendship. But, because I wasn’t interested in their program, I was deemed useless, I was seen as someone unwilling to drink the Kool-Aide. How many churches operate under the same line of thinking?
PROBLEM: You only see people for what they can bring to your team, not who they are. The questions we usually ask are like; How can they benefit us, meet our ends, our desires? What happens when they are unable to produce as you desire, or as you expected? Most of the time, you cut ties with them; they are no longer viewed as a positive member of the team; because they are not growing as the program requires.
PROBLEM: When they question what the team is all about, you take the questioning as personally, and you walk away. When they question, or they have no desire to join, you walk away from the process of building a friendship. It might be quick, or slow, but in the end you will no longer see them as a potential friend.The part that is deeply hurtful is the person is invested in the process of the relationship, while you simply knew, from the start, if your ends were not met you would walk away.
PROBLEM: Even worse is when they decide to join the team, and you see them as “on the team” you will walk away. After all, you have others to bring into your church. You caught that fish, not they are on their own. These new “potential friends” need your time and energy; you have no time for others. So, naturally the person is put on the sidelines and the friendship freezes in place, never to grow beyond a bud.
What does this do to the church? Ever notice how some church talk about how many baptisms they have had, and hardly anyone in church? Yup, people know when they have been had – and they leave, never to return. The biggest problem is, that in the future they will not make friends with other followers because they believe they will have the same experience.