When I first heard about the concept of 3-2-1 spiritual friendships I was really excited to try it. I had never had a group of friends with whom I felt I could share my deepest fears and greatest joys. It seemed so simple yet so revolutionary at the same time. Our cell group decided to put it into practice and we began our journeys.

I journeyed with two younger cell members and, while I was glad for their eagerness to meet and share life, I felt I couldn’t truly share. In ‘3-2-1: Following Jesus in Threes’, Soo-Inn mentions Roberta Hestenes’s 5 levels of human communication. I found I couldn’t get to level 5 — peak communication, sharing with openness, transparency, and self-disclosure — without defensiveness or barriers. I didn’t feel I could share about my spiritual struggles because they were only just beginning their spiritual journeys, and I didn’t want to confuse or overwhelm them. I didn’t feel I could share about the despairs and fears I had as a leader because I didn’t want to discourage them as members. And even if I did lay aside those fears and share, would biblical discernment, encouragement and comfort from the Word follow?

I examined myself and enquired of God — was it pride preventing me from sharing, did I have to learn to be a friend instead of a leader, what needed to change? After some time I decided I would continue with the group but consider it a discipling group; I would find my ‘relational oasis’ (as Soo-Inn put it) elsewhere.

We still meet and there is much joy and encouragement as we share and discover what God is doing in our lives, but I have learnt that there are many different ways to walk with a friend and each has its place and season. Sometimes it takes the form of discipleship, other times spiritual friendship, and sometimes the latter grows into the former. Each has a vital role to play as we grow in Christ. I haven’t found a 3-2-1 (yet) but God has blessed me with a dear friend to walk with; perhaps 2 will become 3 someday.

— Shi Yun, 25