Having friends is important. We need people we can enjoy life with. But we know real friendship is about more than just having someone to go to the movies or play video games with. We want, and need, people who have our back when things get tough.

The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. Seriously, A LOT! (Click this link to find some specifics.) God knew we would need friends, but He also knows that we need to be wise in the friends we choose.

Our friendships can have a positive or negative affects on our life. They can move us in the right direction or the wrong one.

You may have had your youth pastor, small group leader, or parents tell you something similar. A mentor of mine always put it this way, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” The Bible puts it like this… “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV) and “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20 ESV)

Who we spend time with matters. But this isn’t just about surrounding ourselves with Christian friends. It’s about developing some great Christian friendships. Let me explain…

What does a great Christian friendship look like?

There is a difference between having friends who just so happen to also be Christians, and having a friendship that is Christ-centered and helping you grow in your relationship with Jesus. We all need one or two of the latter in our lives.

We need some people who don’t just believe the same way we do but who are encouraging and challenging us in our faith to mature beyond where we are, and will help us move closer to where God wants us to be. And we need to be that kind of friend for them too.

So how can we take our friendships with Christians to that next level of real Christian Friendship? Here are three tips.

Tip #1: Study the Bible together

You can start the same plan on YouVersion, choose a daily devotional book to read, or pick a book of the Bible that you are going to work through together. Start small and simple and work your way up from there. The point is to dig into God’s Word together and make time to talk about it. You don’t have to sit down and preach to each other, though. It can be as simple as daily texts or video chats where you spend a couple minutes checking in about whether you read, what you read and what you thought about it. (I mean, you’re already texting and Snapchatting your friends every day anyway, why not make a few minutes of the conversation about Jesus?)

This is all about accountability. It’s about having another person working through it at the same time to keep you motivated. Consider it like having a work-out buddy for your soul. Just like you might grab a friend to go with you to the gym, so, you know, you actually go to the gym, this is a friend who will pick up God’s Word with you so you are more motivated to do the work your soul needs.

Tip #2:  Pray for (and with) each other

You’re already thinking that this is going to be awkward. You’re right. Prayer can feel really vulnerable and personal. It can be weird to pray with someone, but it can make a huge impact in our lives , in their life, and in the relationship. So when you are talking about God’s Word add another minute to tell each other what you need prayer for. While you can personally pray for your friend each day, stretch yourselves and maybe pray together, out loud, in the moment. I promise the more you do it, the less awkward it will become. Plus it’s good practice for working up the nerve to pray for other people.

Tip #3: Give each other permission to be honest

No one likes to be told they are wrong. It doesn’t feel good. But the truth is, sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we make bad choices, we have a bad attitude, we aren’t doing what we should be doing. When those times come, we need someone who will love us enough to tell us the truth. Too often we only ever have friends who take our side and tell us what we want to hear. While our friends shouldn’t trash us in public (social media included) they should be willing to tell us when we mess up.

Now, here’s the thing, this is where you have to be intentional about who you are developing this kind of friendship with. We don’t just need someone who will tell us the truth, we need someone who will tell us God’s truth. In our youth ministry we tell students this needs to be someone who really loves Jesus and really loves you. Then, when they tell you the difficult things that you don’t want to hear, you know that it is because they love you and want what’s best for you. Their goal isn’t to put you down but to help you grow. You should be willing to do the same for them, even if it’s hard.

PS: This kind of friend will also tell you when you are doing awesome too. It’s a balance between truth and grace, challenge and encouragement.

In the end, not every friendship in your life will be able, or meant, to go this deep. Not everyone can level up to this relationship standard in your life and that is okay. Some friendships are just about liking the same things and hanging out and having fun. But take a look at the friends you have.

  • Do you have a friend who is genuinely pushing you closer to Jesus?
  • Are you that kind of friend to someone?
  • Which friendship has this potential?
  • Get intentional about taking that friendship to a new level or finding that kind of friend. It could make all the difference.