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As leaders in church, we want people to experience great relationships. But we can’t assume that people have the necessary relational skills. We might need to be more intentional about helping people learn to make and be friends.

Motivate people by reminding them of the value of relationships

People are willing to commit to growing in relational skills when they see the value of relationships. Relationships are beneficial for all of us. In Genesis 2, in the Garden of Eden, Adam had everything he needed. Yet God said (verse 18), “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God gives us the gift of relationships to benefit us.

[Related: Hope for the Generations – Our Friendships]

Help people understand simple steps to making friends

People may want relationships but don’t know how to make that happen in their lives. Use the acronym GIFT to give people some concrete “how-tos”.

  • G stands for Greeting. Help people learn some simple greeting skills.
  • I stands for Invite. Train people to ask others to participate in life with them. This includes anything in life where they can spend time together to move to the next step of relationship. Help them think strategically about how to assess the other person’s interests.
  • F stands for Follow Up. Help people see how consistent follow-up helps the relationship grow. Give them skills like checking in from time to time, or resuming the conversation where it left off.
  • T stands for Thanking. Train people to nourish their relationships by letting people know that their friendship and the time they spend is appreciated.

[Related: How Friendship Works]

Encourage people to deal with disappointments along the way

Building relationships is hard work and doesn’t always go the way we hope. People will need encouragement from their spiritual leaders. Focus on what’s going right and offer to help with the challenges they face. Help people choose just one aspect of the GIFT process above and set a goal for that one element.  

We really want people in our ministries to be relational. This simple framework can help you train them to know how to make a friend.

[Related: What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Is it easy or hard for you to make friends? Explain.
  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the overall relational skills of the people in your ministry?
  5. Of the four steps in the GIFT acronym, which do you find easiest? Which do you think the people in your ministry find easiest? Explain.
  6. Identify some basic things a person can say to greet someone.
  7. How can you help someone become a person who invites?
  8. What are some simple ways a person can follow-up with new friends?
  9. Why is it important to express gratitude to friends?
  10. What do you think your ministry would look like if 25% of the people started practicing these skills?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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