By Rev. Doug Forbes
Family and friends are among the most important things in our lives. A few years ago a book was written that talked about the friendless American male. It said that in our modern society many men have few or no close personal friendships. One of the best places to develop positive friendships is in our houses of worship. We can help build positive friendships in our class by having a session devoted to friendship. This works well with children, teens and adults.
Begin your friendship session by instituting a discussion of the value of friendship and the problems relating to developing friendships. Take a large sheet of poster board, turn it sideways and write the word “friendship” on the top center. Under the word friendship write the word “Negative” on the top left side and write the word “Positive” on the top right side. Draw a line down the middle of the poster board and allow the students to list positive and negative ways of developing friendships. Have them write their ideas in the correct column with colored markers. Ask the students to explain their comments and discuss how negative aspects of making friends could be turned into positives.
Have the young people use their Bibles and Bible concordance to find verses on friendship. List these on the board. Read I Samuel 18:1-4 and I Samuel 20:1-42 as a group and discuss the friendship of Jonathan and David.
Tell your students that we all need to develop strong friendships to help us through the storms of life. Gather your students in a circle, and give them paper and pencils. Have them draw a picture of themselves with their name underneath, and then pass their papers around the circle so that each person can write one positive thing about them. Continue passing the papers until everyone has written something encouraging on each paper. Suggest that they attempt to go beyond physical characteristics such as “nice hair,”and write things like friendly, good sense of humor, glad you come to the group, sing well, good at sports, etc. When finished, give each student the paper with their name on it to encourage them.
In closing, read Proverbs 17:17A which says: “A friend loves at all times,” and Proverbs 18B which says: “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Explain that we all let each other down once in a while, but that God is our friend, and He will never let us down. Tell them that God would be pleased if we sought out young people in our schools and neighborhoods that have no friends or are picked on and befriend them. Close in prayer, asking God for help in developing wonderful, positive friendships and thanking God for his friendship.