Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

The Positive or Negative Influence of Friendships and Small Groups

An article from Wired Magazine explored why AA has been able to help millions of people recover from an alcohol addiction. The article begins by stating, "Despite all we've learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better." The question is: Why does AA help so many people find and maintain sobriety?

This article focused on one factor: the power in a small group of like-minded friends who provide support, honesty, and accountability. The article described how honestly sharing problems with a small group of supportive friends has been shown to help people overcome their problems. As a few examples:

  • In 1905 a Boston physician named Joseph Pratt organized weekly meetings for patients with tuberculosis. He was simply trying to teach them better health habits; surprisingly, he discovered that the groups also excelled at providing emotional support. He concluded that by sharing about their "common disease" they developed a "common bond."
  • In a more recent study at Stanford University, a pair of researchers reviewed over 200 studies on group therapy and concluded that group members "develop close bonds with the other members and are deeply influenced by their acceptance and feedback."
  • A 2009 study of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder found that 88.3 percent of those who participated in group therapy no longer exhibited PTSD symptoms, versus just 31.3 percent of those who received minimal one-on-one interaction.
  • There is also evidence that the act of confessing one's faults to a few safe people—enshrined in AA's fifth step—helps in changing addictive patterns. According to the researchers, "Revealing one's deepest flaws and hearing others do likewise forces a person to confront the terrible consequences of their alcoholism—something that is very difficult to do alone."

Conversely, some research studies have shown how friendships can also lead us to adopt negative behaviors. For instance, a 2010 paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a person is 50 percent more likely to be a heavy drinker if a friend or relative is a heavy drinker. Also, a 2007 study concluded that a person's odds of becoming obese increase by 71 percent if he or she has a same-sex friend who is also obese.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Researchers Struggle to Define Friendship

The New York Times recently featured an article exploring our current confusion about friendship. "Ask people to define friendship—even [experts who research friendship]—and ...

[Read More]

Film 'About a Boy' and Our Need for Community

In the film About a Boy, Hugh Grant plays Will Freeman, a single, early-middle-aged slacker who lives luxuriously off the royalties of a Christmas song written by his deceased father. ...

[Read More]