I finished “Stranger Things” Monday night. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it! Anyone who grew up with a stack of tattered VHS tapes around their television will experience a heavy dose of nostalgia. The obvious twists and turns of the story sucked Elizabeth and me in from the first episode, but as the story developed I found myself deeply engaged with the friendships in the show.
“Stranger Things” revolved around friendships. Some were old (the four boys, Nancy, and Barb). Others were new (Nancy and Jonathan, Hopper and Joyce, the boys and El). All of them were powerful bonds of supporting one another, calling one another out for shortcomings, and pushing each other to be the people they knew they could be.
Many of us were part of a tight group of friends when we were younger, but how many of us have a group like that today? It’s a sad fact that becoming an adult can make it harder and harder to make and maintain friendships. Unless you’re lucky enough to forge deep relationships with people who sit next to you at work, it’s possible to go days, weeks, or months without even seeing your friends face to face. Every time you get together you get another glimpse of what you’re missing, you say “we should do this more often,” and then what?
I’ve learned something in my short time as a pastor. People may start coming to church because they like the preacher, or the music, or whatever, but people keep coming because they like each other. The people who show up week in and week out are here because their friends are here. When church becomes a place of meeting, connection, and friendship, it’s irresistible. From the very beginning Jesus formed communities, ensuring that people built relationships with each other while they built relationships with him. It just isn’t the same without it.
FUMCFW and The Gathering are meeting places for strong friends — friends who met each other here, who grew close to each other here, and who greet each other here every Sunday morning. Those friendships have grown well beyond the church; these friends have meals together, throw parties together, and take trips together. They attend each other’s weddings and funerals and everything in between. Much of our modern life can make meeting new friends hard. Church makes it easy.
Join us, and meet some new friends!
God bless y’all,