Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the C@CC blog back in January. We’ve got a men’s event tomorrow night and are gearing up to launch some men’s community groups, so this is a timely repost.

Movies are full of tall, silent, action-hero types… and they generally live to the end of the film. But when they ride off into the sunset they’re generally riding alone.

Not ultimately what you want.

So decide to risk a few conversations that go deeper than the Big Game or your car or where to find the best BBQ in town. And here’s how:

  • Show up
    Instead of formulating your responses as your friend talks, listen carefully to what’s being said (and left unsaid). Ask questions. Sum up what you heard to make sure you got it right. Give conversations your undivided (as in your cell phone switched off) attention.
  • Pull back the curtain
    Revealing something personal in a conversation is an invitation for the other person to do the same. A few transparent comments sharing what you think and feel and you’ll find yourself talking about more than transmission repair. You’ll be deep into marriage, kids, and (just maybe) sharing your faith territory before you know it.
  • Meet in the middle
    Finding common ground cements firmer connections between people. Are you both from the same neighborhood? Both working? Both incredibly uncomfortable opening up and having significant conversations? Fine—start there and see what else you have in common. You’ll be surprised.
  • Pick the right spot
    Have conversations in spaces that are relaxing and conducive to connecting. A coffee shop. Over lunch. Your patio. What doesn’t work: At a stop light. In an elevator. While mowing your lawn. You get the drift.
  • Practice
    Getting past small talk requires skills that may have rusted a bit: listening deeply, identifying and sharing feeling, and withholding judgment as others talk.

The best way to hone those skills is practice, and one place to practice is with prayer.

Your homework assignment: Find someplace you can’t be overheard and tell God what’s bothering you at work or home. Be honest and open. Then tell God what you appreciate about Him. Be specific and give examples. And then…listen. See if God has something to say to you.

The great value in talking about things that matter is that it fuels relationships. That’s true with spouses, friends, and your Heavenly Father. So dive into more deep discussions. See how it strengthens your friendships and brings you greater satisfaction.

Then invite those friends to the best BBQ place in town for a few pounds of pig. And you  don’t need no  stinkin’ napkins!

Psalm 145:18-19 (NLT) “The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.
  He grants the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them.”
What I need to remember:
MEN’S FALL KICKOFF EVENT IS TOMORROW NIGHT. Tomorrow night, from 6:30-9:00pm, Crossings Men’s Ministry will be featuring guest speaker and founder of the 7 Series, John Woodall. John is the director of men’s groups at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. This event will launch Crossings Men’s fall community group. The cost for this event is $20 and includes a BBQ dinner (napkins are optional) and it’s not too late to register!

What I’m reading:
Predictable Success by Les McKeown.

About me:

John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church at Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to lead people to find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.

Let’s be friends: