Relational Fluency here refers to reliance on the Holy Spirit to live an authentic and vulnerable life marked by the ability to develop meaningful, intentional, and compassionate friendships with people in and outside their spheres of influence. Jesus is at the center of this person’s life and their relationships, and they inspire and invite Christians and non-Christians to grow in relationship with one another and with Jesus through gospel-themed conversations and by living out the gospel. This discipleship resource has been developed by some P2C Staff and is likely best used over the course of many discipleship times.

Who Might Benefit From This Track?

This track might be helpful for a student who:

  • May be socially unaware, needs help developing social skills
  • May be very social and have many friends but not many close/deep friendships  (breadth but not depth)
  • Finds it difficult to build trust and connect meaningfully with people and friends outside their circle or spheres of influence
  • Struggles to contextualize their faith and the gospel in their everyday and/or in their friend’s lives 

As a discipler, you might be able to identify this kind of student as they might look like this 

  • Lack compassion and empathy for others – quick to judge
  • Has trouble listening, or being engaged in listening – looks away, looks at phone or distracted when others are speaking
  • Often seen as a fun person to be around but conversations are consistently shallow
  • Student may make themselves the center of attention, lacking in awareness of those around them (self-oriented)
  • Sees only value in spending time with people who are “popular” or relationships that benefit them
  • Closed off to being challenged in their assumptions about people
  • Seems to be passive in engaging with friends or new people (not to be confused with being extroverted or introverted)
  • Is curious about learning from others, but doesn’t know how
  • Has room to grow in how self-aware they are
  • Talks pridefully or self-loathingly
  • Says things in inappropriate times/situations
  • Does not have friends outside of own social group
  • Don’t naturally bring their friends to meet their Christian friends or hang out with them, feel like they have to “have it all together” for their non-Christian friends

Here are the five stages that someone might need to move through:

Stage One: Living Authentically

  • Description: A desire and willingness to be honest and vulnerable about one’s life, faith, strengths, weaknesses and struggles with God, themselves and others (Christian and non-Christian friends).
  • Questions someone in this stage may be asking:
    • How can I be myself around my non-Christian or Christian friends?
    • I don’t feel comfortable opening up about myself, how do I overcome my fears?
  • An area to have training, development or conversations:
    • Develop self-awareness. Helping students explore and understand their personality traits, fears, social cues, strengths, weaknesses, etc. that may hinder or help them in personal and relational growth.
  • Other Options

Stage Two: Taking the Initiative

  • Stage Two: Desiring/Taking the Initiative in Authentic Relationships 
    • Description: A desire and willingness to develop meaningful and authentic friendships and community with non-Christians and Christians.
    • Questions someone in this stage may be asking:
      • How can I go from just acquaintances/classmates/coworkers to actual friends? 
      • I’m comfortable with my small circle of friends. Why should I make friends with others (Christian or non-Christian)?
    • These are the areas that might be helpful to have training, development or conversations:
      • Identifying a person’s spheres of influence. Learning to see the people around them.
      • Simple Social Skills (initiating a conversation, building rapport, carrying the burden of the conversation)
      • Develop genuine curiosity and interest in learning from and about others (asking questions, showing interest in others)
      • Learning to Listen well, active listening.
      • Growing a greater heart for the lost 
      • Conversation around challenges, barriers, weaknesses in building authentic relationships
      • Created for Relationships (Christian community) 
        • Resource: (this is a Compass lesson on the need for relationships with other people)

Stage Three: Deepening Relationships

  • Stage Three: Deepening Relationships
    • Description: Intentionally sacrificing time, resources, personal interests and personal gains to build into relationships. Learning to embody Jesus and to love as He loves.
    • Has a wide variety of friends from different areas of their lives (campus, work church, sports/hobbies, etc).
    • Relationships are growing in intimacy, and in shared experiences both fun and meaningful through mutual trust, vulnerability, respect and encouragement for one another. Friends go to them for advice/opinions and support.
    • Questions someone in this stage may be asking:
      • I hang out with friends on campus but we usually hang out in groups. How do I get to know my friends on a deeper level? 
      • What do I do if I’m not interested in the things my friends are interested in?
      • I’m not sure how to go deeper with my friend, my friendship kind of feels stuck? 
  • These are the areas that might be helpful to have training, development or conversations:
    • Explore practical steps to spending time getting to know people outside regular contexts. First Invitations (taking the relationship outside of the classroom – coffee, social events, etc.)
    • Discipler to model by taking a student to meet new people or join club events to make connections/friendships.
    • Building an attitude of invitation. Inviting people into your home, into your interests, fun events, into your day-to-day activities, into your faith communities, into thoughts/questions and personal struggles. How does Jesus invite others into engaging with him, into relationship with him, into following him? How does Jesus/gospel show intentionality/initiative? 
    • How does Jesus interact with people:
    • Initiate conversations through asking Good Questions 
    • Develop genuine curiosity: “Nurturing a Holy Curiosity” article 
    • Going deeper/uncovering the layers of a person…Onion theory/model

Stage Four: Inviting Jesus Into Your Relationships

  • Stage Four: Inviting Jesus into your relationships
    • Description: Inviting your friends into your relationship with Jesus, through exploring and discussing the different questions, convictions and gospel themes in your life and the life of your friends. 
  • Questions someone in this stage may be asking:
    • I feel like I can’t share things about my faith with my friend because they won’t understand. How do I invite my friends into my faith?
    • My friend and I often have conversations around spiritual topics (love, purpose, destiny, etc). How do I talk about my faith through these topics without being awkward?
    • How does the gospel possibly relate to these particular friends?
  • These are the areas that might be helpful to have training, development or conversations:
    • Journeying with People Over Time
    • Finding Common Ground While Challenging Uncommon Ground
    • The Gospel as a Holistic Lens Through Which to View All of Reality 
    • Disciplers might help their disciple practice connecting the Gospel to a wide variety of seemingly “non-spiritual” topics. (could use “words project” to help a disciple learn to see the gospel through different topics.)
    • How does the gospel meet our “core needs”?

Stage Five: Inspiring Authentic Community

  • Stage Five: Inspiring Authentic Community 
    • Description:  Inspires others to develop meaningful relationships and to build relationships within community. Help bridge or make meaningful connections between friends/friend groups (Christian and non-Christian alike).
  • Questions someone in this stage may be asking:
    • There are so many lonely and disconnected people on campus, I can’t possibly be-friend everyone, but what else can I do?
    • I’m the only Christian my friend knows and I’m not sure what else I should do?
  • These are the areas that might be helpful to have training, development or conversations:
    • Investing in other Christians (gauging where somebody is at, assessing their desire and areas to grow, issuing helpful challenges.)
    • Integrating Friends into Christian Community 
      • Resource: Community 2:8 – (A Cru strategy helping students not only pray for their friends and share the Gospel with them, but also introduce them to other Christian friends and invite them into their lives)
    • Caring for Other People’s Friends as Much as My Own 
      • Taking Initiative with Others in Group Contexts
      • Resource: Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles (a book about creating a group culture of caring for one another’s friends)
    • How to help others desire relationships and take initiative
    • How to help others develop deepening relationships and bring the gospel into them
    • How to help others to help others to develop meaningful relationships
    • Leading from Brokenness 
      • Resource: Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender (a book about leading from brokenness and vulnerability despite the risks)
    • Taking other students to have gospel conversations on campus

Best Practices Suggestions

  • Practice relating the gospel to various topics that don’t seem directly “spiritual.”
  • Invite students to hang out with you and your friends who are not Christians so that they can see how you interact with them.
  • Take students to other club meetings or events on campus.
  • Hang out with the student when they are hanging out with their friends.
  • Help brainstorm practical next steps to take in relationships, like introducing themselves to a classmate in their next class, sharing a vulnerable struggle with another Christian friend, or coming up with a “deeper” question to ask their classmates at the next study party.

Other Helpful Resources

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