Note: This is part four of a four-part blog series on the core values of New Life Church
We are strongest when we are living our lives with other people. Our enemy knows if he can separate us from our family and distance us from close friends, we are more vulnerable and prone to deception. That’s why the church must be a place where genuine friendships can be built and people are allowed to live transparent lives with one another.
I despise church masks, including the one I wear from time to time. We have built church around the idea that everyone should be perpetually ok when, in fact, the church should be the safest place to confess failures and struggles. Authentic community only happens when we give each other permission to be honest without fear of rejection. In fact, a big part of our healing should include confession and prayer for one another. (James 5:16)
I am not a big fan of organized accountability groups where guys meet once a week and confess all their temptations. If you are in a group like this and it is helping you, then continue going by all means. I just don’t believe you can organize and administrate real friendships. These types of relationships take time and intentionality. Real friendships are not made in the microwave; they must be marinated.
Sincere friends have blessed my life, but I have also felt the pain of being lonely. The first year I was at New Life, I felt alone, even though I was on a stage every weekend speaking to thousands of people. All my close friends were back in Texas and I had to start making new friends here in Colorado. I believe God reminded me during that lonely time to never take friendships for granted and to make sure New Life Church was a place where authentic community could be easily found.
If you are not a part of an authentic community of friends, invite someone this week to eat a meal with you or meet for coffee. Come to church early next Sunday and stay late so you have time for conversations. Find a small group and bravely go to the meeting, even if you don’t know anyone there. It takes courage, I know, but the reward of having friends is worth the risk.