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Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

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Is "real" friendship too risky?We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it's easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don't mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital "friends," we really don't have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation.Jesus models a much richer vision of friendship. Scott Sauls, pastor and teacher, invites you to see the breadth of Christ's love in this book, "BeFriend." Join Scott on this journey through twenty-one meditations to inspire actively pursuing God's love through expanding your circle of friends.Scott has met too many people whose first impulse is to fence off their lives with relational barriers that only end up starving their own souls.Yes, it's true: Real friendship is costly. Love does make us vulnerable. But without risk, our lives will remain impoverished.Join Scott in "BeFriend" as he summons you toward diverse friendship that can enrich your life and, in the process, reveal a better version of yourself.

240 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2016

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About the author

Scott Sauls

20 books195 followers
Scott Sauls serves as senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee where he lives with his wife Patti and two daughters, Abby and Ellie. Previously, he was a lead and preaching pastor for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he worked alongside Dr. Timothy Keller. Scott has also planted churches in Kansas City and St. Louis and is a frequent speaker at conferences, leadership retreats, and to university students. He writes weekly on his blog at scottsauls.com and can also be found on Twitter at @scottsauls.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews
Profile Image for Katherine Jones.
Author 2 books74 followers
October 18, 2016
My husband and I have several friends who choose, very intentionally, to make friendship the center of their Christian ministry. This is a beautiful thing and, quite honestly, I think very much what Jesus had in mind when He discipled His followers. He modeled it Himself, showing that the best kind of witness begins with genuine friendship.

These friends do naturally what others — especially those who have grown up in a digital, online culture which by its very nature inhibits authentic friendship — might need to be shown another way.

This is, of course, what Scott Sauls’ insightful, incisive book is all about.

Part of BeFriend‘s appeal is that it’s neither ponderous nor preachy. The 21 bite-sized chapters — essays, really — are pithy and to the point. Each easily consumed in one sitting. And incidentally, it’s Scott Sauls’ hope that readers will digest his book either in community or as a personal study. Toward this end, he includes helpful prompts and further Scripture reading with each chapter to facilitate deeper thought on each topic.

For me personally, his chapter on befriending Dysfunctional Family Members provided welcome perspective and balm. So too did his chapters on befriending Those Who Vote Against Us. But I have to say it was his thoughts on befriending Sexual Minorities that gave me the greatest encouragement. In it, he expands on a theme he hits on earlier: grace before ethics. So many of us have gotten off the track by reversing these two, but no one — no one — is drawn to Jesus (or anything else, for that matter) by condemnation. Scott puts it this way:

“It’s not that ethics are unimportant. Ethics are very important. But we can’t talk about ethics in a productive way without the necessary prerequisite of friendship.” (page 79)

BeFriend is worth reading for these chapters alone, for the author’s gracious, outside-the-box provision of a way forward through today’s divisive climate. How I’ve needed that.

Have you? Then I highly recommend you get your hands on this book. You — and your newfound friends — will be grateful you did.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me this copy free of charge. All opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Rachel B.
773 reviews40 followers
February 13, 2023
Abandoned after 13%.

Right from the get-go, I found myself in disagreement with Sauls on the value of various friendships. He compares "real" friendship to digital friendship, transactional friendship, and one-dimensional friendship. I get where he was coming from re: digital and transactional friendships, but then he described what he calls one-dimensional friendships: friendships that revolve around a single shared interest.

So in his mind, if you have a friend that you only ever meet with to go for bicycle rides, or put together puzzles, or have a playdate with your kids, those aren't "real" friendships, and they will leave you "distanced, isolated, and afraid." (p. 7)

He fails to recognize the value of those types of relationships and the fact that we can't be everyone's everything. Not even Jesus, while He was on earth, had the same type of relationship with each of his friends! While it's a gift to have a friendship with someone who you can call when things go right and when they go wrong, who's loyal and makes time and works through differences, etc., it's also a gift to have someone who's involved in your life only to the extent of your shared interests. Friendships don't have to be divided along this line of "best/closest friends = real and good" and "situational/casual friends = fake and bad." Sometimes all you need is to know that when you show up to a weekly event, there will be someone there who will offer a smile and be genuinely glad to see you, even if you don't know each other well - and even if you never will.

The other thing that bothered me was his apparent love of repetition as a writing tool. On every page, there are multiple instances of this kind of writing: "You too do abc. You too do xyx. You too do 123; Don't forget abc. Don't forget xyz. Don't forget 123." It makes for a dramatic reading, like Sauls was trying very hard to write something profound, and it was simply overdone.
Profile Image for John.
51 reviews5 followers
January 8, 2020
I couldn't get past this book's excessive use of clichés, namedropping, bloated use of adjectives, and overly flowery writing style.

Here is an example: "Tears are our stake in the ground, our tender yet tenacious protest against things like death, mourning, sorrow and pain – things that we know intuitively are not supposed to be."

Sounds nice. Is it helpful in grieving? In dealing with trauma? In building friendships?

My biggest frustration with the book is that it doesn't actually teach on how to be a better friend, just that you should be a friend to basically everyone, including your spouse, your family, your enemies and every currently underrepresented or socially oppressed or unpopular group. Which are all valid points. But... is befriending everyone the best way to actually build deep friendships??

"Befriend the one in the mirror, the "other", the prodigals and the pharisees, the wrecked and the restless, the shamed and ashamed, the ones you can't control, your true friends and significant other, sexual minorities, dysfunctional family members, children, those grieving and dying, the poor and empty-handed, the rich and powerful, the other race, the bullies and perpetrators, the vulnerable women and the humans not yet born, the strangers and refugees, those who vote against you, people with disabilities and special needs, the God that embraces you."

That's not actually a quote – it is a list of all the chapter headings. You get the idea. If this book were entitled "How To Show Love to Everyone", I think it would have been far less disappointing.

There were a few sections that were helpful to me, the ones on Pharisees, depression, and being friends to both vulnerable women and the unborn.
Profile Image for Milla.
49 reviews
May 20, 2017
This is one of the most important books I've read yet this year. We studied this book as a church group, which allowed us to move slowly and really chew on and discuss each chapter, and the principles have already changed the way I see the city and the people around me. One of Sauls' main points is that we need friendships with people unlike us, as being in real relationship helps us to learn, to grow, to be challenged, and to become more like Christ. He really challenges the church and the ways it falls short while also showing what a beautiful thing the church can be when it follows Christ's example of living in relationship. Wow... I could go on and on. This book pointed me towards Christ, gave me more love for people, and filled me with hope for the church. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Nora St Laurent.
1,392 reviews74 followers
October 23, 2016
Take your time in reading this book. There is so much inside. The author states, “Real friendship is hard…There are other, less real versions of friendship. The less real version are “less” because they are less costly, less committed, less descriptive, less scary, less gritty, less gutsy, and less out-of-our-control than real friendship. But here’s the rub…Less “real” versions of friendship are also less rich. In the short run, they feel better and smoother than real friendships. But in the long run, they leave us lonely and alone. And it is not good to be alone.”

This explains how we can have thousands of friends on FB; be more connected than we’ve ever been in our lives and feel all alone. This is a new phenomenon we didn’t grow up with and our children are navigating without use (because we can’t be with them 24/7.)

With our children growing up with virtual friends and getting to know people through texting and having a player join their video games; I think that this book is very important for everyone to read. There was a time when we knew our kids friends and could help them navigate things but now any more. The scary things is you don’t really know the other person on-line because their profile may not be real. Bad guys can sit in their homes and pick their prey. Being educated on what to look for in relationships will help you spot what is real and what makes you go “hum” It’s also a helpful refresher course on what is important. The author discusses the following types of relationships (and so much more.) in an engaging way.

1. Digital Friendships – Facebook, video game friends etc. The kinds of friends your kids can talk to without leaving the house.
2. Transactional friendships – this isn’t’ really friendship. “Unlike real friendship, transactional friendship treats other people as a means to an end. When we relate this way, we come to view people more as resources than as human beings. Instead of loving and serving them as we would in a real friendship, we use them to advance our careers, build our platforms, gain access to their social circle, increase our self-esteem) impress others, etc.”

I’m glad he talks about this. I think this is important. Sad to say that this is happening in the work force too. Everyone is replaceable and viewed as a resource.

3. One-dimensional friendships – “happens when they revolve around a single shared interest and not much else.”

I’m glad he talks about this too. Sometimes we have friends that like to do the same things but it doesn’t go any deeper than that. It’s ok to have these friends but don’t expect it to go anywhere other than the events shared.

A Case For Befriending. C.S. Lewis says, “All true friendship begins when one person looks at another and says, “You, too?”….”When a friendship grows beyond one dimension to many dimensions – a poverty of friendship is replaced by a richness of friendship…Everybody matures and grows. And when everybody matures and grows everyone wins.”

I’m so glad this author took apart the topic of friendships and relationships in general. In a time where everyone is racing to have more “friends” then the other; it’s a refreshing look at what is “real” and what is pretend. Face to face relationships are important. They take work and risk. So much is lost in a text or a comment on facebook. Our words can be distorted and emphasis on something the writer never intended. This book is a keeper. It’s one I’ll be reading over and over again; each time getting another revelation I didn’t see the last time I read it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
2 reviews2 followers
April 21, 2017
Do you feel that making friends has gotten harder since you became an adult? I do. Most of my remaining friendships were established early in my life. Honestly, I seem to have taken the aphorism, "no new friends" to heart. Even among those who I have recently befriended, I do not maintain the friendships. So when I saw the book Befriend: create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear by Scott Sauls available to review, I had to order it.

When I was a child, making friends was as easy as asking someone if they wanted to play together. After that, we were usually life long friends. I still maintain friendships with former kids from the old neighborhood who I met at the park down the hill from my home.

Souls opens the book by defining the different types of what he calls "less real" friendships: digital, transactional, and one-dimensional. I have been on both sides of all three of these types of friendships and currently seem to be stuck in a pattern of both giving and receiving aspects of each of them. Somewhere along the line, I lost the vulnerability of opening myself up to mutual reciprocity.

Befriend is a collection twenty essays. Sauls recommends that readers read the book in a community - a book club or inviting a friend to read it along with you so you can discuss it together. He also suggests reading it as a daily study where you read a chapter a day. Finally, you can always just read it as you would any other book. Once I finally got into the book, I was a little disappointed to discover that it wasn't a practical guidebook on how to develop those richer types of real friendships that we seek. Instead it seemed to be an overview of how Christian practice can serve as a catalyst for friendship. He shares stories of a how alcoholics and drug users were embraced by the acts of kindness by church members. Each chapter outlines ways that you can befriend different types of people, yet didn't seem to make a direct connection to developing deeper friendships. The end of each chapter has a summary, scripture, and a thought to consider.

Take aways:

The book is scripturally-based and Christ-centered.
The book offers readers a chance to reflect on the reading by posing thoughts to consider.
The first chapter of the book seems disconnected from the rest of the book. Many of the stories of how friendships developed seemed to be based on one of the three types of "less real" friendships. I think that it would have been more powerful to include personal stories of long lasting friendships and add tips on how they maintained those friendships.
I really had high hopes for this book. I love the book cover and the premise of the book, but the content left me wanting more.

*Tyndale House provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for David Harris.
206 reviews20 followers
January 9, 2018
This is about different categories of people we ought to befriend: not really about befriending itself. The introduction was solid - Sauls talked about the need for friendship in our disintegrated world. Quotes Lewis's Four Loves (how could you not?) but goes downhill from there. The most disappointing element in the book however, was not that it seemed it missed its mark entirely (which I believe it did) but rather the author's views on shame. Shame is a bad thing, Sauls said. This was fascinating to me, having recently read Keller and Lewis on how shame is both an explanation of the reality of evil, and the proper response to sin. Again, for Keller and Lewis, shame is ultimately dealt with through redemption. For Sauls (although at times he has great gospel clarity in the book he deserves credit for) shame is something overcome through changing our self image.

Summary: Title is deceiving. Cool cover design. Quotes a good book that actually deals friendship. Buy that one. I would be ashamed (*gasp) to give this more than two stars.
Profile Image for Joelle.
258 reviews
April 24, 2017
Convicting, thought-provoking, and balanced. Sauls has an interesting perspective on many current social issues. He offers much to think about without becoming "preachy", and he regularly directs you back to scripture. This a is a great book club or discussion group selection--could even be a small bible study.... a worthwhile read!
Profile Image for Porter Sprigg.
246 reviews20 followers
October 23, 2017
An excellent book about compassion and the love of God which stretches to everyone, even those who we don't naturally gravitate towards. I deeply appreciate the kindness, thoughtfulness, and honesty with which Sauls writes. He communicates why we need to make friends and how to thoughtfully love those friends.
Profile Image for Nathan Albright.
4,425 reviews102 followers
September 1, 2016
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BuzzPlant in exchange for an honest review.]

There are some joys about getting books like this one in unedited edition for advance readers. One can see, for example, the elements of the book that wait until the end, such as the detailed footnotes for the citations and sources included in this book. Sometimes, though, one is missing content that one would really want, and sadly, in reading this book, the chapter I wanted to read the most was not included--befriending the opposite sex [1]. Fortunately, the other chapters of this book, which is a bit under 200 pages, are good enough that even with this crucial chapter missing, it was still an immensely worthwhile book. Most people who know me, even people that may not like me that much, would probably concede even if grudgingly that I am a particularly friendly person. This book was written for friendly people, people who want to be friends and think kindly of basically everyone, and to do so from a godly and Christian perspective. It is the sort of book I enjoyed reading, something that encouraged my own personal tendencies and habits with regards to befriending others, and was a pointed reminder of the difficulty of being a gracious person as well as a godly one.

The contents of this book--the twenty chapters that are included in the version I read at least--make it clear that believers are to befriend or at least try to befriend nearly everyone: the person in the mirror, the "other," prodigals and Pharisees, the wrecked and the restless, the shamed and ashamed, the ones you cannot control, true friends and significant others, sexual minorities, dysfunctional family members, children, those grieving and dying, the poor and empty-handed, the other race, the rich and powerful, bullies and perpetrators, women and humans not born yet, strangers and refugees, those who vote against us, people with disabilities, God. There are at least some of these lists where people would place me, others that are filled with people I encounter in the course of my ordinary life, and the author manages to include a great deal of personal stories about himself and his family, often told with a sense of self-effacing candor that fits with the other writing by the author I am familiar with [2], and with the same basic point, that we should be loving and kind to everyone, not merely those like us or those who happen to like us. No, we must be friendly even to those who hate us and fear us and mistrust us, as difficult as that is.

It is hard to overstate how practical this book is in light of our contemporary polarization and hatred and intolerance. The author wades into political debates about race, about abortion, about homosexuality, and does so without sacrificing biblical truths about either our obligation to be loving and gracious or about the conduct that is being dealt with. The author reminds us, and the reminder is a necessary one, that our opinions about issues and our worldview concerning behavior or sin does not give us the greenlight to hate people on those grounds. The author even, uncomfortably, addresses our need to befriend those who have committed terrible crimes and sins, to forgive them of their wrongs, even as we recognize that there are consequences that last even after forgiveness is given, and to pray for reconciliation even after wrongs like rape and murder. This is not an easy book, and what it asks of its readers is immensely difficult. There are many books that encourage a cheap sort of ragamuffin grace, but this book points out over and over again just how costly the grace is that we are to show to ourselves and to other people. Those of us who seek to be gracious in our own lives are often reminded painfully of this fact, and those who have yet to try should be encouraged but also suitably warned by the contents of this most excellent book.

[1] See, for example:









[2] See, for example:

Profile Image for Kaitlyn Watson.
21 reviews
April 3, 2017
When I got this book I was going through a rough time, struggling in all my friendships and wondering if friendship was even worth what it seemed to cost me. I saw the summery of this book, it asked the same question I had been for months "Is friendship worth it?"

I got the book ASAP, and when I started it I thought it was going to give me the answers I was looking for. Sadly it didn't.

Befriend is a book about finding the friendship you have in Christ, and how to be a friend to the various types of people, including the ones you may not like. Each section is filled with helpful advice with questions to challenge you and your friends if you decide to read this in a group. Which I personally recommend doing, it will help all of you grow closer.

I loved the book, but compared to what I read on the back of it's cover it was different from what I was hoping to find. It's still a wonderful book on how to be a friend, but if you are someone like me asking the question, "is friendship worth the cost?", then you'll need to find another book.

Befriend deals more with how to be a friend, which is a helpful thing to know for many people and why I still like this book and highly recommend it, just don't expect it to be what the back cover describes.

That's all for today folks. Until next time I hope you have a blessed day!

I received this book in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Profile Image for Rebecca  Cal.
27 reviews2 followers
September 23, 2018

Befriend... there are some great thoughts here. Many resonate with things I already believed, others were new thoughts. The last chapter was worth the whole book.
Profile Image for Lauren.
13 reviews
November 9, 2018
I’m really glad I read this book. It’s insightful, humble, honest, and drenched in scripture. I’m really encouraged and inspired after reading it. It’s an easy read - highly recommend!!
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 20 books42 followers
February 6, 2017
It is surely an indictment of Western culture, but also very revealing, that this is a necessary book. But I do believe it is. For in an age of parochial self-interest, culture-war mentalities, and brutal ad hominem politics, the notion of friendship with anyone who is different from me in any way (politically, culturally, economically, physically, racially, educationally etc etc) seems hard to imagine. It certainly won't happen without a concerted effort or a degree of humility and readiness to listen.

So Scott Sauls' book is a timely antidote. He has a refreshing willingness to transgress prevailing social divides. His is an important challenge. In Trump's America this is more urgent than ever. But the same must be said of an increasingly nationalistic Europe. If the followers of the boundary-destroying Nazarene can't do what he did then what hope do any of us have?

So I really enjoyed this book: a sequence of brief but challenging calls to befriend 'others' whom many of us would rather ignore. To this end, Sauls is provocatively non-partisan. No one can get away with a smug complacency after this.

If I had one quibble (and it really is a small point) an editor could have helpfully excised some of the slight tendency to name-dropping and Tim Keller name-checking! Sauls worked with the latter in NYC and was naturally deeply influenced. But we don't need to have his great virtues extolled at every mention! But hey - what do I know? I never worked with Tim Keller!
Profile Image for Meggie.
329 reviews7 followers
December 15, 2016
This book is rooted in the truth of the gospel. It offered me fresh eyes to see how the gospel impacts my heart, and in turn, my interactions with others. Knowing my deep brokenness and need for salvation changes how I connect with other people. The first and last chapters helped me understand this in a new way, especially to have a knowledge that everyone around me is in some kind of struggle. That impacts how they engage with me; and my personal struggles impact how I engage with them. This has truly and profoundly changed my way of relating.

That’s mostly where my positive thoughts about this book end. Each chapter takes a different “people group” and offers insight for how to relate to them, change our perspective, love them. While offering true insight, as I slogged through the book, I was frustrated by an “us-them” mentality that made me feel like I was just reading about other people. Yes, there’s much to be learned from those of other races, abilities, viewpoints, etc., but perhaps it is not so unifying to spend so much time discussing those differences.
Profile Image for Christine Hiester.
157 reviews35 followers
May 22, 2017
I have to admit, I love the cover. It may have had a lot to do with why I bought it. I did like the book, and appreciate the heart of the author, but it didn't strike me as particularly new or profound. More like faith-lite reading. It certainly has its place but will not stick with me.
Profile Image for Shawna.
327 reviews2 followers
April 25, 2022
Pretty basic. If you already have friends that cross cultural, racial, sexual identity lines, you don't need this book. If you live an isolated, Christian friends only life, you need this book.
Profile Image for Mason Frierson.
328 reviews25 followers
September 9, 2020
Scott Sauls is the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. He seems to be a pastor in touch with today’s world but still grounded in a commitment to Scripture. He would fall for me somewhere between Andy Stanley and Tim Keller, more committed to core evangelical values than Stanley but a little more progressive than Keller. This sense also comes through in the endorsements at the front of the book and in the foreword by Ann Voskamp. Sauls comes from a centrist evangelical position, with Matt Chandler on his right and Richard Stearns on his left (both endorsed the book). Sauls’ centrist position serves him well in this book. I came to his book Befriend having never read any of his other work and having only heard him speak on a couple of occasions. I appreciate the heart that comes through in this book. Befriend is a collection of twenty one brief chapters, the bulk of which are directed at encouraging readers to befriend various kinds of people. We all know we are to befriend all sorts of people but Sauls, having laid a gospel basis for friendship in chapter one, is very effective at applying the need for friendship toward all for his evangelical audience. Sauls covers all sorts of groups, including often contrasting pairs (poor and rich, unborn babies and their mothers, conservatives and liberals). The book has an edge because most readers will come to a chapter that makes them uncomfortable, challenging their prejudices and lack of love. Because he is covering such a wide range of topics, the chapters are a bit uneven in terms of content, with some of them just pretty conventional in a way that will just be review for most believers. The best chapters are the ones covering issues Sauls has wrestled with deeply in his own life. Throughout the book, Sauls probes for the sweet spot of fidelity to the Bible combined with an open and loving heart. He most often succeeds in bringing this sense of grace and truth across in his writing. The book is well-suited for a small group, as it contains further Scripture readings and questions at the close of each chapter, but it may run just a bit long to be ideal for a small group. It may be best used by two or three friends who read it and discuss over coffee or a meal. Individuals of course, can also profit from a careful reading of the book.

The last chapter, on the God who befriends you, is the best chapter in the book in my opinion and is a fitting conclusion to a well-written and insightful book. For a people thoroughly connected but lacking community, Befriend gives us solid guidance.
Profile Image for Ryan Hawkins.
359 reviews28 followers
December 10, 2017
This book was between a three and four star book for me. But in the end, he had such good things to say on some subjects that it was worthy of four. However, I do admit that on some subjects I did not fully agree with him. But I won’t get into all that here.

But as the for the things I didn’t like about the book. First, it seemed more like a collection of essays (as it was) than a gathered book. This was surprising to me, since every chapter is supposed to have this idea of befriending in it. In many of them, he does spin this. But for a handful, it seems like they are just essays about a debatable issue. The focus is not on befriending per se. Second, I thought his usage of Scripture was often just vague and more eisegesis than exegesis. Now, he also uses Scripture wonderfully sometimes, but I sometimes thought he was trying to find Bible verses/stories that fit the situation when they didn’t. I also thought some chapters were not that great overall, especially compared to others.

As for what I loved, I loved what he had to say about some subjects. HIs chapter on disability and mental illnesses was incredibly beautiful. His chapter on children was great. His chapter about befriending those of the opposite political party had some good points (although I didn’t necessarily agree with all of it). His chapters on the poor and the rich were helpful. And his concluding chapter on befriending the God who embraces (and ‘likes’) you was really moving.

This book, therefore, was never a love-hate, but it was a book sometimes I loved and sometimes I didn’t like so much. But overall, some of the chapters were excellent. An easy read as well.

For certain topics, I would recommend his chapters/essays.
Profile Image for Ann.
318 reviews5 followers
March 21, 2019
While I don’t agree with Sauls’ interpretation of scripture — or view of friendship — in every case, I would be missing his point if I rejected his book because of it. The message that came through in the 21 short chapters is that there can be a basis for friendship between me and anyone else, no matter how different we are. Though one may not have enough time left on this earth to consciously reach out to people in every one of Sauls’ categories, we all have the God-given capacity to open our hearts and minds to people around us whom we may have ignored or avoided and to befriend someone in at least one of the categories, the “prodigals and pharisees,” the “wrecked and restless,” the “ones you can’t control,” the “sexual minorities,” “people with disabilities and special needs,” “those who vote against you” — the list goes on. Of course each category could be the subject of entire book, but Sauls’ comments are enough to stimulate one’s thinking and apply to one’s own situation and sphere of opportunity. Each chapter ends with a summary, a key scripture, and questions for the reader to ponder alone or with a small group. A free discussion guide is also available at ScottSauls.com.
Profile Image for Suzie Waltner.
Author 7 books110 followers
October 14, 2016
Befriend: Creating Belonging in an age of Judgement, Isolation, and Fear by Scott Sauls wasn’t quite what I expected in this book. But that’s not at all a bad thing.

In a world where much of our communication with others is via Facebook, text messages, instant messages, 140 characters on Twitter, or photos on Instagram, we’ve lost a lot of personal interaction. An opportunity to go deeper. Be more understanding. Give a piece of ourselves to others. In short, we’ve limited ourselves to our circle of friends online and in our cell phone contacts. How many of us even take the time to send a personal, meaningful email to a friend or family member?

What Scott Sauls encourages readers to Befriend is to step away from the computers, to put down the cell phones, and make real connections. And again, the challenge is to step outside our circle of influence and get to know people who are different than us—the poor, the wealthy, people with different political views, the disabled, and children to name just a few.

At the beginning of the book, Sauls offers three ways to read his book: read a chapter a day (to ruminate on each challenge), as a small group study, or reading it through in one or two sittings. I can definitely see the advantage and potential for deeper friendships as well as servant opportunities that would benefit a small group.

Even reading the in a few sittings challenged me to reach out to others. Others who don’t live in my neighborhood (or city or country). Those who have less (or more) than me. People who view life through different eyes than I do. Because in the end, my relationships should be a reflection of Jesus, and he hung out with every type of person.

***The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Brandon.
371 reviews
June 8, 2017
Great study of friendship. Sauls lays out twenty different kinds of people whom Christians are called to befriend (Prodigals and Pharisees, Children, Other Races, Other politics, Strangers and Refugees, and much more).

This isn't a "how-to" book. Rather, Sauls's approach is to: outline the challenges or defaults outlooks we tend to have about each group, then he exposes the problems with our outlook, and how the Gospel changes our outlook.

Some of it will step on toes (like the chapters of pro-life and pro-choice, other politics, other races). But Sauls does not discuss these issues as a needless provocateur, or as one just trying to get under our skin. He does it to expose (and graciously at that) some blind spots that we have that keep the Church from God's will for its life.

It's a very good book. I would recommend this to every pastor, and every church member, as this book well-describes the mind of Christ, which we are called to "put on."
Profile Image for Kevin Naylor.
28 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2017
Best book I read in 2017. To be honest I was surprised that this was the case. I thought this was be your average Christian living book that was helpful but not life-changing. I was wrong. And I can't say that about most books in the Christian living vein that I've read.

God used this book in a powerful way in my life to driving deep into my heart that kindness comes before repentance, that grace comes before morality. That this is how God has first initiated relationship with me. And that this then trains us how to interact with others. Especially in a time when it seems that we are more divided and afraid of one another more than ever the gospel provides the very means by which we can live surprisingly and subversively -- loving those who do live like us, look like us, vote like us, talk like us precisely because he first loved us.
6 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2020
Its an easily accessible book with short chapters meant for contemplation and reflection on befriending. Good book with great reminders to befriend everyone because of Christ. However, it was not what I expected from his introductory chapter when Scott made a case for befriending and the importance of real/true (multi-dimensional) friendship compared to one-dimensional friendship. I was hoping he would get into greater detail about what he meant via real/true friendship, but the book continues with chapters about befriending people in ways that can be very much one-dimensional. It's still a great book with great reminders of call of Christ for Christians to be befriending everyone around us and to overcome our complacency and preconceived notions. I just didn't think the book connected well with the premise in the first chapter.

Profile Image for Mike.
78 reviews
February 5, 2021
The author's stated intent was a good one: this book was designed to foster good group conversation and challenge the reader to branch out in their relationships. I did appreciate many of the challenges and loved the author's Biblical insight. In the end, however, it seemed to parrot many of the typical talking points of our day without adding much to our understanding of them. This is the primary reason I couldn't rate it higher. Like many social issues of our day, truth was sacrificed on the altar of likeability. I think the book could have been excellent if it helped the reader understand how to stand for both people (relationships) and truth. Instead of asking us to understand where they are coming from (which isn't a bad starting point), I think it would have been better to help us know how to then love them with truth.
Profile Image for Marie.
168 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2017
I've often given thanks for the many friends God has placed in my life in this season. Some younger, some older, some wiser, some funnier, some really awesome people who have made life so much more interesting.

Until I read Befriend by Scott Sauls I really hadn't thought of all the other possibilities for friendships. Those who are bullies, minorities, poor, rich, vulnerable, strangers, refugees, disabled, dysfunctional ...

God weeps over things gone wrong in this world (pg. 102). I'm sure He places mishandled, forgotten, ruined relationships among those things that have gone wrong. He loves us more than we'll ever know as long as we're on this earth. He does not pick and choose among sinners and the righteous...He simply loves and He expects us to do the same.

Friendship is vulnerable and inviolable. Friendship is risky and worth the risk. Friendship is comforting and uncomfortable at times.

The following quote sums up the emphasis of this book:

Real friends not only agree but disagree; real friends not only applaud each other's strengths but challenge each other's weaknesses; real friends not only enjoy life together but struggle through life together; real friends not only praise one another but apologize and forgive one another; real friends not only rally around their points of agreement but love and learn from their points of disagreements... And when everybody matures and grows, everybody wins. (pgs. 4-5)

This is a very powerful, thought-provoking book. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Blog Network Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Sandy.
74 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2017
This book inspired me to make more of an effort to be a friend to anyone God sends.

It was rich in real -life relationship building in a world where we tend as (Christians and not) to congregate in our own, little groups.

I will admit to being challenged in more than one of the areas I was reading. I was pushed from the inside to break through comfort zones and live beyond them.

This book teaches loving as Christ loved, radically and and with a greater love than found in this world.

Scott Sauls reached deeply into my heart and helped me ask myself what is really there.
Great read. I gifted it to someone in my Ladies group at church!
Profile Image for Kara.
195 reviews1 follower
December 24, 2019
I very much enjoy Scott’s writing. I am always challenged by what he has to say in my daily walk with Christ. I am learning to get outside of the us vs them mentality on many issues, and instead, seek compassion for those who are different from me, and show the love of Christ to all I come into contact with. I am thankful for how he speaks into all areas of life and all kinds of different than me. He is biblical, and keeps the focus on who Jesus is, what He was about, and how I can seek to do the same in a way that is humble, and seeks His help in befriending others. I appreciate how easy he is to read dm understand as well.
Profile Image for Christina.
65 reviews
June 25, 2019
This book was really good and really challenging as loving others is not easy. I appreciated the perspectives, ideas from others examples, questions to ask myself and inspiration to love more. This is from the book “Befriend is a collection of 20 essays. Each essay attempts to explore a unique picture of real friendship. Real friendship happens when we move toward the people we are most tempted to avoid. These are the people who are best equipped to challenge our perspectives, push our buttons, and require us to put on love .” Scott Sauls
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