Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
Men have two friendship problems, says Max Dickins.
One, we may have lots of mates, but tend to lack intimacy with the friends we have. Two, with the friends we do have, we grow further apart as we get older.
Dickins is a comedian, which comes across in his book in some of the genuinely hilarious anecdotes, turns of phrase, and cultural references. He explores the state of male friendship, and he finds that across the board we are losing the battle. Billy No Mates is a painful and fascinating journey through the science and sociology of masculine relationships, peppered with comical self-conducted experiments including renting a friend on the internet for the afternoon.
Why don’t we, as Christians, talk about friendship more? If we know the God who is relational to his core, surely we should be the best friends in the world? Jesus said people would know we are his disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:35). Surely this has a lot to do with friendship.
In fact, we should be the best friend-facilitators in the world. Jesus, even as he is dying on the cross, asks John to look after his mother. He is the great connector and, as Jesus followers, we have that opportunity and mandate too. At its best, I have seen the church help isolated people make friends. In the words of Psalm 68, ‘He sets the lonely in families.’
At the end of the book, Max resolves to start a ‘Pub Club’ where he tells his friends he will be at a certain place for a few hours, and invites them to come and hang out and chat. It works. If there is nothing like that in your life, why not think about starting something? If there is, Max’s encouragement is to ‘show up, when asked.’
Recent research has shown that not only is a lack of close friendships is the number one barrier to sharing our faith, but these relational connections play a hugely significant role in people becoming Christians.
So, can we do better here? Can we be that bit more intentional about showing up when invited, instigating meet ups, and daring to take the conversation deeper?
My prayer is that men and women become less isolated and that we instead regain a deep relational connection in our workplaces and communities. May we be the best of friends, and may there be no Billy, or Betty, no-mates.
Phil is Head of mission to young adults at the Evangelical Alliance and author of Story Bearer: How to Share Your Faith with Your Friends. His book on friendship, The Best of Friends, will be published in February 2023.