They Don’t Get It: Lessons on Deep Friendships from My High School Group


by Don Smith

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“The other guys at my school don't get it. They don't understand why I would willingly go every Wednesday night for a couple of hours to some boring church group. They don't have what we have.

They don't have a place they can go have fun, but at the same time talk about the deep things going on in their lives. Sure, they hang out with other guys at parties and stuff just like I sometimes do, but we never get into deep conversations there like we do here. They don't have real friends like we do, it's a little sad.”

I listened as the boys I had led since sixth grade talked about the significance of getting together each week to sit down, study lessons from the Bible, and really talk about what was going on in each of their lives. It dawned on me that these were not boys anymore, but young men, young men I am incredibly proud of. Juniors in high school, they had grown a lot over the years, even just in the last year.

They were finally beginning to grasp the significance of what we had been doing over the last several years. They were building a solid foundation for their lives, not only with God, but with each other, and learning many lessons that would serve them well along the way.

Deep friendships require getting together on a regular basis, sharing major life experiences, being vulnerable, and building trust among other factors. The book Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, which was part of our book a month challenge last year, dives into this subject in detail.

Part of our job as leaders in social organizations is to create bonding experiences. That's why we kick off our high school groups with insane things like an experience we call “Hot Mess,” where students get to bond over things like paint wars and team tug of wars in a muddy ditch that would normally have parents flipping out.

Not your typical church youth group night
Not your regular youth group – Getting messy on our opening night for our high school groups

A small group at church is usually designed to create these types of bonds while teaching life lessons.

These types of groups are usually uncomfortable at first as a guest but build over time. I was uncomfortable with the other guys in my men's group for many months when I first started attending, but half a decade later, I've formed deep relationships. While friendships can and do form every day by happy accident, if you are intentional about putting yourself in the right circumstances and striving to be a good friend, you may soon find those deep relationships as well.

My question to you is this. Are you intentionally getting out of your comfort zone to put yourself into situations where you can build deep relationships with others? Or do you hold back for some reason? If you're a leader, are you creating bonding opportunities and opportunities to be vulnerable with each other for those you lead?

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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