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youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, friends

Friends Outside of Church: Do You Have Them?

By Doug Franklin May 15, 2013

On Monday night I went over to a local youth pastor’s house to watch the Bulls game. While the game itself was incredibly disappointing (they lost big to the Heat if you didn’t know), the night was fantastic. We devoured pizza and had a blast watching his two year son chase my 5 year old puggle around the living room. From time to time we would actually tune into the game, but for the most part we sat and talked, laughing together, sharing stories, and connecting over favorite tv shows we both watch on Netflix. When the game was finally over and the Bulls’ playoff picture looked dismal, we called it a night and I drove home, Roxy clearly exhausted from her night of being chased.

This morning I sent him a message, just thanking him for the great night, letting him know how much I enjoyed hanging out. When he wrote back, he made the comment about how thankful he was to build a relationship outside of church, and that it had been a real challenge for him to do over the last 14 months that he’d been at this church. I know exactly what he means. When I started at LeaderTreks 6 years ago, everyone who worked here pretty much hung out together. While I really wanted to build relationships with those I worked with, I also knew I needed to connect with others outside of my job. So I sought out a church to get involved in, and it made a huge difference. I met my wife and my best friends outside of the walls of LeaderTreks, while at the same time growing in friendship with people at LeaderTreks. It was hard to do, but it was worth it.

If you’re a youth worker, one of the hardest things to do is build Christian friendships outside of your church. Why? Because you’re at church ALL the time. Youth group, leadership teams, adult small groups, Sunday services–the list could go on forever. While relationships inside the church are needed, having some Christian friends outside of your church is incredibly healthy and important? But why?

1. Outside perspective
When you spend enough time with only the same group of people, pretty soon you only see life through the eyes and perspective of that group. Not that it’s wrong for this happen by any means, but just getting outside perspective can be a really good thing. What are other churches doing right now? What are the challenges and joys of someone who doesn’t go to your church? All of these things can help as you go through your daily life.

2. A safe place to vent
Every once in a while, even though you may really love your job, something may go wrong or you just have a bad day. Having relationships outside of your church can be really healthy because they can provide you with a safe place to vent. Now, keep in mind, a safe place means it’s safe for you AND for you church. Venting to your friend is one thing; having them encourage you to bash your church is not good, nor healthy.

3. Fun
Having friends outside of your church allows you to have fun, while not worrying about having to fulfill expectations as a pastor. It allows you to be yourself, to be poured into rather than just pouring out, and it gives you the opportunity to take a break from being “Pastor Brian” and just be “Brian.”

I’m incredibly thankful for my Christian friends outside of my church and outside of LeaderTreks, and I’m thankful I can be that friend to another youth worker too.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More