For Youth Workers Post

Spiritual Friendships

Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for January 27–February 2, 2014.


“I have a suspicion that many kids in church have way too many church friends. I know I do. After all, we fill our weeks with church stuff, youth group, Bible study, devozine, kids club, holiday camps—the list goes on. Or perhaps, the young people you work with have few church friends; and the time you have with them is one of few times they meet with people of faith. Either way, I wonder how many of us have friends that we feel comfortable talking to about our faith and our doubt, our sense of call, our sense of loss, our questions and our certainties.

“I have often found that my non-Christian friends are easier to talk with about faith than my friends in the church, possibly because I don’t have the feeling that I am being judged.

“So the question for this week is this: Do we have spiritual friendships? Who are the people we can be honest with about who we are and what we believe? If not, how can we nurture spiritual friendships in our community?” —Darren



darrenDarren Wright is a Uniting Church Youth Worker, serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Youth and Children’s Ministry Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, high school chaplaincy, and local government as a youth worker. He has also been a petrol station attendant, supermarket employee, dairy manager, and furniture salesperson. His interests include music (Moby, Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Muse, All India Radio), film (MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim, The Avengers), TV (Chuck, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community), theology, pop-culture, and working with young people in at-risk areas. He is particularly interested in how the church and theology connect with pop culture. Check out Darren’s blog.



  • snacks and drinks
  • candles and matches
  • pens
  • people cutouts (make your own or order boy cutouts and girl cutouts from “Riot: Art and Craft for Creative Hearts”)
  • Bibles
  • paper
  • markers
  • (optional) music and a way to play it (choose some music from “Plugged In”)
  • flowers
  • copies of the closing prayer from The Prayer Tree, by Michael Leunig; Harper Collins, 1992.
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session



If you want to develop this session in other ways, here are a few resources that may be of assistance.


To expand this session, ask people to compare the different images of friendship in the lyrics of these songs. Be sure to listen to the songs before you choose to use any of them.

You might spend some time comparing the various forms of friendships in these films.



Create a welcoming space. Provide snacks and drinks. Place on a table in the center of the space a number of candles (tealights) with one larger candle (taper) in the center. Before people arrive, light the center candle.

Invite group members to name their best friends and, as they do, to use the central candle to light one of the tealight candles. (They may name more than one friend and light more than one candle.) As an alternative, provide paper cutouts of people (see “Stuff You Will Need”) and invite people to write on the cutouts the names of their best friends.

Bring the group together to discuss these questions:
       What qualities do you look for in a friend?
       How do you keep friendships strong?
       What do your friends see in you that makes them want to be your friend?
       What causes you stress in friendships?
       Have you had a friendship that struggled but survived?



Scripture: Hebrews 10:24; Ecclesiastes 4:9–10; 1 Samuel 3:1–10

Distribute Bibles. Invite people to read along as you or members of the group read aloud the three scripture passages above.

Invite discussion:
       Do you feel comfortable talking with your friends about your faith, doubts, family, struggles, vocation, or love? Why? Why not?
       With which of your friends can you discuss your faith, doubts, or personal issues? Whom do you ask to pray for you?
       Do you have a friend you can go to when, like Samuel, you hear a voice in the night?
       What are some ways that we can help cultivate friendships within our community or church?

Invite group members to spend some time discussing ideas about how to create spiritual friendships in their community. Make a list. Perhaps the group would like to take a lead in creating a plan for the church.



Give each person a flower. Invite people to look at their flower and to reflect on its beauty.

Read aloud this Georgia O’Keefe quote from her contribution to the exhibition catalogue An American Place, 1944:
“Nobody sees a flower—really—it is so small—we haven’t time—and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

After some time passes in silence, invite each person to name two friends with whom they would like to spend some quality time. Encourage group members to ask for God’s help in finding the time this week to truly see their friends and to find out how they are doing.

Encourage group members to spend a bit of time in prayer for their friends this week as well. Suggest that they use this prayer from The Prayer Tree, by Michael Leunig, which you will read together to close this session:

       “We give thanks for our friends.
       Our dear friends.
       We anger each other.
       We fail each other.
       We share this sad earth, this tender life,
              this precious time.
       Such richness. Such wildness.
       Together we are blown about.
       Together we are dragged along.
       All this delight.
       All this suffering.
       All this forgiving life.
       We hold it together. Amen.”



  • Look at the group’s list of ideas about spiritual friendships. Perhaps they would like to begin planning and take on a few tasks to follow through on their plan.
  • Perhaps you’d like to use the chapter on “Friends” in Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens and the Way to Live Leader’s Guide to explore friendship in a worship setting.
  • Use the On Our Way video, book, and study guide to delve deeper into the idea of friendship.
  • Host a movie night or several movie nights. Watch and discuss movies that explore various levels and forms of friendship.
—from devozine In the Habit (January/February 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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