From “strategic consumerism” to “intentional friend-making”

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : August 12, 2005

I think the term "strategic consumerism" causes some problems for people.  I use this phrase, because I inherited from somewhere else.  The basic idea IS NOT: "hey, you spend alot on coffee and going out to eat and junk anyways, so you might as well do it all in the same place."  The idea IS: "hey, instead of going to your favorite establishments to purchase your favorite things, start going to establishments where you’re likely to meet the people you’d like to meet.  And go there for them, instead of for coffee, or lunch, etc."

So, I’m casting aside the term "strategic consumerism" forever.  It is a cumbersome, problematic phrase that doesn’t convey what I want it to convey.  I will now, forevermore, use the phrase "intentional friend-making."

Yes, I know it sounds lame.  Extremely lame.  But it is helpfully descriptive.  I’m willing to use a different phrase if you have suggestions. 

This is different than "friendship evangelism" because the goal of friendship evangelism is to share your faith with your friends.  I HIGHLY encourage that.  That is a great thing.  But the problem is that if we stop there, we never move beyond our (usually homogenous) circle of friends. 

Here’s the basic idea:

Pay attention to where people congregate and hang out.  It could be a coffee shop, it could be a bar, it could be the park, or the library, or a cruddy diner, or the local YWCA, or community center, etc.  We should try to spend our time more and more where neighborhood people spend their time.  This won’t work very well in suburbs, because people don’t center their lives in "third places" in the suburbs. Though many do in urban and rural places.  We should go to where the people are at, and try to make connections.  Some of us aren’t going to be able to do this very well at all.  Some will do it naturally.  Most will be in the middle.  Those of us who make connections with people in this way will be able to graft them into our network of friends…so in a healthy church, only a handful of people need to be doing this well for the whole church to be making new friends.

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4 Responses to “From “strategic consumerism” to “intentional friend-making””

  1. Matthew on August 12th, 2005 11:56 am

    I heartily agree with your concept of “intentional friend-making.” I am, however, an new church-planter in a suburban context, which you state doesn’t cater much to this concept. Have you thought more about this? Any musings on reaching people in a cultural context where geography does not seem formative for friendship, but rather affinity and workplace? For this results in difficulty reaching those near you. Not impossibilities, but difficulties. Just curious.

  2. Anonymous on August 12th, 2005 9:13 pm

    “Intentional friend-making”… that makes me laugh… It is a lame term, but I whole-heartedly agree with you on its definition.

  3. Emily on August 12th, 2005 9:14 pm

    “Intentional friend-making”… that makes me laugh… It is a lame term, but I whole-heartedly agree with you on its definition.

  4. Van S on August 15th, 2005 3:15 pm

    Matthew, I think that there are some centers for meeting people, but they are trickier. Places like community centers, schools, libraries, etc. And I think that getting to know the people who live on your block (or in your cul-de-sac) by throwing backyard grilling parties and whatnot is something that can be helpful.

    Emily…it makes me giggle too.

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