Building relationships has always been the core of any successful ministry. In the Old Testament, God spoke ‘in partial and varied ways through the prophets.’[i] But in the New Testament, the Word became flesh and said to His apostles, ‘I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.’[ii] The Apostles were not just slaves or servants to Jesus, but friends. It is through friendship that Jesus passed the faith to His followers.
And it is through friendship that the faith is passed on today. I decided to look up ‘friend’ in Webster’s dictionary and I found two interesting definitions:
1. One attached to another by affection or esteem.
2. One that is of the same nation, party or group.
I propose that the friendships we build with teenagers today be more about than the first definition than the second.
Do the teens in our churches and youth groups feel that our affection for them is based on who they are or do they think is it predicated on their acceptance of our beliefs? Though in theory we might say the former, many of our practices suggest the latter.