New city, new church, new people, and even some new words! This has been my life over the past five months shortly after I became married and moved with my husband to a different state as we pursue oversea missions. During my life I’ve experienced a few “big moves”, including to places overseas, but this time was surprisingly different. Sure, I was moving from the southern United States to the northern, but it was still in the same country. So, no big deal, right? Except, this time I wasn’t necessarily just moving to a temporary location; I was moving my life. The friendships the Lord has given me over the past four years are now long-distance. The church in which I enjoyed sweet fellowship and experienced great growth in the Lord is still continuing on without me as it had done before. As I was once a local who knew all of the great places to eat and shop, I now once again am a newcomer to my new place of residence.
I have quickly realized this situation presents me with two choices. I can look back on the familiar place which is now hundreds of miles away and wish I was back there, or I can take advantage of the new place to which God has brought me and embrace the new life of a community with believers and new opportunities of service to Him. Being a lover of familiarity and comfort, I am inclined to choose the former, but I know that would not help me spiritually and would be a hindrance to my husband and our ministry. So, with my husband’s advice, I am beginning to build new friendships with believers individually and with my new church as a whole.
In no way am I an expert on adjusting to a new place and starting friendships, but I do have the experience God has given me (I’m still learning!). I hope this helps you if you are in or will soon be in a similar situation which will require building friendships and finding community within your new church. That being said, here are some practical ideas for adjusting to your new place of life!
1) Get involved!
For me, this was an open door since my husband and I moved back to his hometown of Middletown, Ohio, and the first Sunday we were already involved in the youth group at our church. The Lord also gave me the opportunity to help in the planning of our first Ladies’ Christmas Tea which allowed me to connect with many of the wonderful ladies here. These events were crucial in helping form a close relationship with my new church, allowing me to feel connected and involved. Maybe there is a spot just for you in the nursery, Children’s Church, or cleaning crew of your new church. Discipling a younger believer is also a wonderful way to serve and get to know others. Whatever the opportunity available, jump in and get involved!
2) Introduce yourself
Proverbs 18:24 tells us, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly”. Being the first ones to introduce ourselves to others opens up many opportunities to make friends in our communities and in our churches. I’ve found it’s much easier to make new friends when I first ask God for opportunities to make friends with others whom I can influence for Christ. Whether it’s at work, in your apartment complex, or at the grocery store, be aware of those around you and look for opportunities to introduce yourself to someone. It might be intimidating, but you never know how God will use you to be a witness or an encouragement for Him.
3) Grow intentional friendships
This idea goes beyond just introducing yourself and forming acquaintances, and on to forming what you hope to be deep, life-long friendships. The Lord has blessed me immensely by giving me treasured friendships as I’ve journeyed through life, and I’ve realized how important these friendships are for me and often for the recipient. I’ve also learned it takes much effort on my part to maintain and grow these intimate friendships. Many who know me know I’m certainly guilty of neglecting to pick up the phone and make a weekly (or even monthly!) call or to write a simple e-mail to stay connected to others. If we take the time to invite another lady out for coffee or plan a FaceTime call, even if it’s just for a few minutes, God can use that to be a blessing to the other lady and to ourselves. It’s also a good idea to consider reaching out to older individuals with whom you wouldn’t normally seek out. Recently, my husband and I have grown closer to an older couple in our church, and we are grateful for their insight on life, marriage, and ministry. So, go ahead and plan to cultivate close friendships, then put those plans in action!
These are just a few simple suggestions to get you started on your way to finding friendships and community within your new place of life. Maybe you have had your own experiences you’d like to share. Please share them below!