If you’re like me, you left good friendships to move away for seminary. Or maybe you’re about to and this blog post could offer you some more concrete hope for making friends once you do move. I’d like to offer you five very practical steps to making friends. In my experience, all five have been essential, but especially number four!
1. Talk to students during breaks
The way many seminary classes are structured, you’ll have one or more five-minute breaks throughout a three-hour lecture. Towards the beginning of the semester, you could have counted on me to be reading a book for fun or scampering off to the chapel to play their grand piano. More recently, I’ve been intentional about having a conversation with one new person each lecture period. Let me give you a golden question: “What do you have going on this weekend?” One guy said, “Playing frisbee with some guys from school,” to which I replied, “Awesome, can I come?” Another said, “Nothing,” to which I replied, “Want to get some other guys together and go on a hike?”
2. Attend school events
Although I’m not a huge fan of optional orientation events, the kinds of people who go are usually the ones looking for friends. That’s an even better place to ask “What do you have going on this weekend?”
3. Take opportunities to serve alongside them
Volunteer to set up events at school. Find flyers looking for people to tutor after school. Although it’s hard to strike up random conversations during class breaks, it’s way easier to strike up conversations when you’re working on the same project together. If you don’t like volunteering or study groups, I’d recommend learning to see them as golden opportunities to meet people who could become friends.
4. Volunteer your desire for friends
This has easily been the best step I’ve taken toward making friends at seminary. When people ask, “How are you doing?” I’ll often be honest and say, “I’m feeling lonely. I’m in a new place and don’t have friends yet.” What happens after that is usually an invite to coffee, an offer for prayer, comiseration, or being added to a potluck email list. The seminarians I’ve spoken with find that kind of honesty refreshing, and I’ve been to a number of coffees, potlucks, and coffees as a result of it. Turns out lots of people feel the same way here. Now I have too many people wanting to hang out, which is a wonderful problem to have.
5. Wait on God; be open.
Friends are gifts of grace. Pray for friendship and be open to the kinds of people God may introduce you to. The friends I’ve made out here are way different that the friends I had back home. If I’d insisted on replacing my friends back home with carbon copies, I’d find myself very disappointed.
By Jack Franicevich Jack is an MDiv student at Denver Seminary. His interests range from the doctrine of the church, theologies of friendship and work, preaching, hymn-writing, and grassroots ecumenism to competitive table tennis, cooking for large groups, classical literature, and organizational development.