Changing Lives Thru Friendships

August 11, 2014

Building Relationships


Friendship has implications for the nature of Christian relationships and the way we “do” special needs ministry.  This is part 2 in a series of blog posts on the topic of being a friend.  I am writing these posts specifically for our team of passionate volunteers who are “All In” when it comes to special needs ministry…but I believe this topic has implications for special needs ministries everywhere.

You can find part 1, “What You Should Know About Our Name” by clicking here.

If I were to ask you, “What is the mission of First Baptist Orlando?”  What would your answer be?

  1. To make a positive difference in our community.
  2. To make disciples of Jesus Christ.
  3. To encourage every believer to serve.
  4. To be obedient to Scripture.
  5. To be an authentic biblical community.

All good answers, right?  But only one of them is correct…and if you picked #2 “To make disciples of Jesus Christ” you identified the right answer!  Our mission at First Baptist Orlando is consistent with the Great Commission that Jesus gave in Matthew 28:

“Go and make disciples…”

By definition a disciple is “a follower.” 

And who did Jesus initially share the Great Commission with:  the 12 men that He himself discipled.

In essence, Jesus was telling them to go and make disciples (followers) in the same manner in which they became disciples (followers).

And how did they become disciples?  Thru a friendship with Jesus.

I am proposing to you that discipleship occurs within the context of a friendship.

I believe this is true because Jesus interacted with His disciples in the same manner that close friends interact.  You can find support of this throughout the Gospels:

  • Jesus referred to his disciples as his friends.
    1. I no longer call you servants…I call you friends…” Jn.15:15
  • Jesus shared His inner emotional life and thoughts with them.
    1. “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’” Matt.26:38
  • Jesus longed to share deeply meaningful moments with them.
    1. “And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22.15)
  • Jesus told them of His feelings for them.
    1. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jn. 15:12-13
  • Jesus let them know that their temporary failures did not affect His acceptance of them.
    1. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22.31)
  • Jesus was concerned with their peace of mind.
    1. “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14.1)
  • Jesus spent time with them.
    1. “And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.” Mark 2:15
  • Jesus asked them for support in His hour of need.
    1. “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matt 26.36-37)


Jesus modeled, and chose friendship as the primary means of making followers (disciples).

What does this mean to you? 

Simply this:  Jesus calls you friend and He desires to disciple you thru His friendship with you.

What’s the application of this for our Special Friends ministry and the mission of First Baptist Orlando? 

Simply this:  to help our kids/teens/adults with special needs become followers of Jesus thru friendships.

It is thru the context of being a friend with those that we serve in our ministry that you create the best opportunity to share the Gospel.

That’s how Jesus did it with his disciples.  That’s how He wants to do it with you.  And that’s how we should be doing it with others.

Special Friends:  Changing lives thru friendships.

God bless and thank you for all that you do for our ministry!


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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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