Friendship Ablaze! Reaches Out

Before you begin this Friendship Ablaze! Bible study, take a moment to write down the names of the first twenty people who come to mind when you think of friends or family.

Now review your list. How many are Christians who have a church home? How many are unchurched? How many are not Christians?

Most adult Christians know 8 to 20 people who are functionally unchurched. Developing friendships Ablaze! means we believe we can reach those unchurched people and lost people for Christ and His church. Those names go on your prayer list of unchurched friends.

Friendship Ablaze! sees relationships with the unchurched and the lost as valuable. Lost people matter to God. Read John 3:16. Your friendship with someone who is unchurched or lost can be a powerful spiritual connection and a pathway into the church. It can be Ablaze!with the Holy Spirit's power and presence.

It works like this. Read John 4:1-26, 39-42. Here you see Friendship Ablaze! at work. As you review verses 39-42, how do you understand the woman’s friendships becoming spiritual connections? Did her relationships with friends become a pathway to knowing Jesus Christ? What happened along that path that introduced Jesus Christ?

Think about how Jesus valued relationships with the lost as you read Luke 7:36-50 (notice the comment in verse 39) and Luke 19:1-10 (notice the comment in verse 7).

  1. Where did Jesus spend time with the lost?
  2. What implication might that have for sharing Christ in friendships Ablaze?
  3. Why do you think others criticized Jesus for his compassion for the lost?
  4. What implication might that have for developing friendships Ablaze?
  5. In Luke 19:10, how does Jesus describe His purpose on earth?

As I think through this last question, I am impressed that Jesus was very intentional about His purpose. He actively sought out the lost. I believe lost people matter to God. Therefore, they must matter to me, and I will actively seek them out.

Let me share some practical thoughts with you about Friendship Ablaze! and the list of unchurched and lost friends you created previously in this lesson:

  1. Pray for those friends daily. Review chapter two for suggestions on how to pray for them to come to faith. Prayer is a crucial part of Friendship Ablaze!
  2. Contact those friends weekly. Take time to make a telephone call; meet them for lunch; play a round of golf together. Be part of their lives. Keep the blaze burning brightly.
  3. Remember them monthly. Bake a loaf of bread; send a “thinking of you” card; send them a book or a tape. Let them know that you are thinking of them and value their friendship.
  4. Invite them to church or an appropriate church activity. This means know them well enough to know their interests and needs. Perhaps a worship service is anappropriate place to invite your friends. However, a marriage enrichment class might be better, or a concert, or a social event, like a ball game. If they say, "No," ask again another time.

A closing thought: friendships Ablaze! take time, commitment and intentional effort. Learn to value your friendships with those who are unchurched or not Christians. If you have few unchurched or non-Christian friends, intentionally seek people out where you work, where you live, where you shop, or where you play. Be their friend. You will be following the pattern of Jesus. And God can use your relationship to bring that friend to faith in Jesus Christ and spiritual growth in His church. Begin now with the friends you listed. God wants your friendships Ablaze! with the Gospel's love and the Spirit's power.

A closing prayer:

Father, thank You for my friends. Today I especially thank You for those who are unchurched or simply lost in their understanding of who Jesus is and what He means for their lives. I think especially of (names from your list). In Your grace, empower me to make each of these friendships a Friendship Ablaze! with Your love. Use me to help them know You. In the Name of my Friend Jesus. Amen.