Session 4: There are Friends and Then There are REAL Friends

By the end of this session participants should be able to . . .

  • list 3 or 4 characteristics of good friends
  • list 2 or 3 types of relationships that we sometimes think are friendships but aren’t
  • discuss the difference between negative peer pressure and positive peer influence
  • recall biblical sayings related to friendship

Useful Texts

  • John 15:13-17
  • Proverbs 16:28; 17:9, 17
  • Ecc 4:10

Introduction - Wow! You’re Interesting!

For this activity you will need slips of paper (one for each person). Number the slips using each number twice. Put them in a container.

Have members draw slips of paper from the container and find the person who has the same number. Partners will take turns finding out as many interesting things about each other as possible. Give 2 minutes for each person, signaling them when to switch. After they are finished have everyone sit back down. Go through the group, having participants introduce their partners by telling their names and as many interesting things about them as they can remember.

My Circle of Friends:

Copy and hand out the My Circle of Friends worksheet.

Say, “ Many times we have friends in different situations: school friends, neighborhood friends, church friends, etc.. Very often even our friends at school sometimes fit into different categories: friends who make us popular, friends who help us with our problems, friends we are very competitive with, people who we are friends with because none of our other friends are around, etc..

Have participants take a look at the sheet in front of you. Say, “Think of all the people you know and who know you. How many ‘acquaintances’ would you say you have; people you would say, ‘Yeah, I’ve met them,’ even though you and they don’t know a lot about each other. Take a guess and put that number under the word ‘acquaintances.’”

Have participants do this for each layer of the circle. Remind participants that this is not a contest for the most “friends” and that they should keep their sheet to themselves.

“Friends” should be considered as people who they know pretty well; not best friends, but people with whom they have done things, and had some good times; people who have gotten to know their personality.

“Close Friends” should be considered as people who they know well and who know them well. The people who know about your dreams, problems, and real successes.

Give participants 5 minutes to complete the rest of the worksheet.

When everyone has finished ask, “In which layer did you put the most characteristics of love?” [Hopefully, it will be in the “Close Friend” layer. If not ask them why that might be?]

Next ask, “Which layer had the highest number of people who would support and help them do the right thing even if it wasn’t popular?” [Again, hopefully the answer will be the “Close Friends” circle.] Discuss with the participants that sometimes we need to reevaluate who we call our friends. Sometimes people we might consider acquaintances would be much better friends than the people we hang out with.

Discussion - Negative Peer Pressure/Positive Peer Influence

Say, “We’re all influenced to some degree by other people, especially friends and those we spend a lot of time with. Think about your friends at school.

  • What things do friends at school influence you about? [Clothes, friends, music, drinking, sex, attitude, etc.]
  • What things do church friends influence you about, or is there no difference?
  • Many Orthodox teenagers say that they like to spend with their Orthodox friends because they feel they can be truly “themselves” with them and not have to act “certain ways.” Have you ever felt this way? What are some of the “certain ways” that their non-Church friends might expect them to act? [Cool and collected when I’m kind of confused; Interested in things that I’m not interested in; Angry when I just want to be myself and have fun, etc.]

On a large visible surface write two headings: “- Peer Pressure,” and “+ Peer Influence.” Have a number of markers available. Give participants 5-7 minutes to quietly write words and phrases that they think relate to these words. [Examples for the negative; drinking, selfishness, painful, afraid, etc.. Examples for the positive: makes it easier to make hard decisions, friends, care, love, etc..]

After everyone seems to be finished or at 7 minutes ask if anyone has any questions or comments about something that was written. This gives the person who wrote it a chance to explain.

Summarize the activity by saying, “If we are ever wondering if someone is a true friend, all we have to do is think about which column they seem to fit into more. Remember, most of us probably fit a little into both columns.

Journal Reflection

Have participants write down the scriptural quotes listed above in their journals.

Write down on the top of one page “To be a better friend.” Thinking about the people that you would call real friends, read through the citations and then go through 1Cor 13:4-8a replacing Love is with As a friend, I am. Thinking about situations that you and your friends have found yourselves in, times when you’ve had to make some real choices, make a list of things you could have done to be a more loving friend.

Session Conclusion

God brings many people in our lives. Some want to support us and help us, others want us to join them in bringing themselves down. Friendships form during all kinds of situations and no two friendships are the same. However, true friendships do have one thing in common. If we cannot say that love is part of our friendships, if their is no kindness, no patience, no hope, no perseverance, no trust and no rejoicing over truth with our friends, we are simply not real friends.