Take the students to camp, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

Every follower of Christ is called to ministry. That’s not a role simply for the “professionals.” If you’re a Christian, your call to follow Christ is also a call to serve Him by serving others. Unfortunately, we limit the definition of ministry to a narrow band: teaching a class of kids, singing, preaching, or scariest of all, being a sponsor at youth camp.

Ministry is as diverse as we can imagine. Any job, interest, or hobby can be an avenue for ministry. But there is one ministry we can all do—and it is hiding in plain sight.

Be a friend.

I’m not referring to just being nice to people (although it wouldn’t hurt for some of you to be a little lot nicer). I’m calling us to ministry to others through friendship. You may conclude you’re already doing that. Maybe so, but it’s easy to serve those we’re naturally friends with. It’s easy to be there for that close friend you’ve known for years. But I want you to consider broadening your circle of friends.

Any ministry will often call us to step outside our comfort zones, even be a little vulnerable. Building a relationship with someone new is no different. You’ve already got acquaintances—people you see around the church, your neighborhood, in an extracurricular activity you both participate in. Get to know them. Move beyond being an acquaintance.

Be intentional in building a relationship. You already share one thing in common—that shared place where you frequently encounter each other—and if you take the time to visit, you might find other areas of shared interest.

This is where it gets awkward for most of us. What will we talk about? I default to something I consider easy: I ask questions. Don’t talk about yourself (unless they ask). Ask the person questions. Deep down we all like to talk about ourselves, and you’re giving them a chance to do that. It communicates you value them.

Admittedly, it’s not always easy. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to build a relationship with a man who answers every question with a single word. It’s not that he doesn’t want to talk; he’s just shy. But I still put myself out there.

Every person you get to know is an opportunity to minister. As they talk, they may mention something weighing on them: a challenging workload, health of a parent, and so forth. Offer to pray for them. Offer to pray with them. As you get to know them, you will see ways you can help or support them. That’s ministry.

Developing these friendships takes effort and intentionality, but it’s worth it. Julie Beck, who has written a lot about the value of friendships, says, “Showing up for our friends takes effort, yes, but it shouldn’t be drudgery. It should be a joy.”

People are desperate for friends, but it doesn’t always show. You’re surrounded by people at church who are hoping someone will take more than a passing interest in them. Too many adults are busy with work, kids, and home responsibilities that they’ve lost meaningful connections to other adults.

Be that connection.

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