Though I'm naturally an introvert, I know it's important to meet and befriend new people. Why? Because 1) it's not good for man to be alone (and many are), and I want to be a good neighbor, and also 2) because God has sent me into the world, and my community in particular, to make Him known while knowing others. Yes, I am one of the old-school Christians who not only has a hope that everyone I know will to come to faith in Christ, but also has a goal to help everyone I know come to believe the gospel. Some might call that an "agenda." If it is it's one given to me by God, and I'm totally cool with that. Every so often I have good conversations with other Christians about how and where to build relationships with new people - especially people outside of the church. It's something all church planters work at. I thought I would share the four places I most often meet new people outside of the church, and two others that would also work well. Then I'd like to hear from you. Where are you meeting people in your community as you seek to be a good neighbor and a faithful witness?
Where I Meet New People
While I meet people in line at the grocery store, or while pumping gas, I am thinking primarily about places where people tend to regularly settle in for a period of time and are open to conversation.
Coffee Shop I know, this one is obvious, but not every coffee shop works for this. I favor a local independent coffee shop in town where many go to read, relax, and chat while enjoying some great coffee. Through being a regular I have become friends with 70 year old skeptics (yes, that's plural), young suburban reporters, local business men, etc.
Cigar Shop We have an amazing tobacconist (not a cigarette store, but a real cigar/pipe shop) with knowledgeable staff, big leather chairs and couches, The History Channel on TV, and dudes-- lots of dudes. This is one of the best places I go weekly to meet men, and have good conversations about everything from politics, to family, to the environment, to the economy, and frequently - the gospel.
Pubs/Diners Pubs and diners are better places to meet new people than traditional restaurants because for many they are a place not only to eat, but also to socialize. We have some great pubs in town, and continue to hold our Theology Pub gatherings in a great local establishment.
Kids Sports Teams/Recreational Classes Sports can be healthy recreation or an idol - especially where I live. But we are careful, and having my kids in sports allows me to connect with other parents while we watch our kids do their thing. My son (6) recently began wrestling and during practice I get to hang out with other dads and talk with them for over an hour a few times a week.
Two more places...
The Gym (Athletic club, boxing gym, outdoor basketball courts, martial arts studio, etc.) Let's be honest - most of us would benefit from hitting the gym, but this is also a good place to connect and build relationships with other guys. Full disclosure: I signed up for the gym once, and went twice. It's not my thing.
Running Club These weirdos get their own section, because they are an odd tribe sort of off on their own. I know, I am one of them. Yet - another confession - I have not yet joined a local running club. I have made enough excuses in the past and am looking to connect with one this Spring.
Depending on age and interest there are numerous ways and places to meet people in your community. Book clubs, American Legion, art classes, etc. Where are you connecting with others, and how is it going?