In this series of blogs I am trying to help people think through what it practically looks like to be “Intentionally on mission….purposefully making disciples.” I have continued to argue that we do not need to add a bunch of new things to our life, but simply be more intentional and purposeful in the environments that God already has us in.
One of the greatest ways to “let our light shine before men that they would see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven” is in our neighborhoods or places we live. This is not only an environment that we are constantly in, but we have repeated opportunities to get to know and serve others. Unfortunately, we often get so busy in life that we don’t even take the time to get to know our neighbors. I have found though that it is not just us who want to get to know our neighbors, but our neighbors generally are longing to get to know others as well and experience community. We can serve people in a great way by simply creating environments where community can take place. It is in that context of community and relationships that we can share the hope of the Gospel!
So how can you get to know your neighbors? Consider these ideas that I have compiled with the help of Josh Reeves in his article “25 Simple Ways to Be Missional in Your Neighborhood.”
- Spend more time in your front yard, playing with the kids, watering lawn and look to connect with your neighbors as they come home or walk by. Consider walking your dog at the same time of day. As you are out and about, prayerfully ask the Lord for opportunities to get to know your neighbors. Stop and talk to people as you are out!
- Reach out to neighbors by having them over for dinner, throwing Christmas parties, having a soup night, or hosting a BBQ. God will often use this simple gesture to help you get to know your neighbors on a deeper level, leading to more meaningful conversations. Your neighbors often want to get to know each other as well so you are initiating what others want to do.
- Do a progressive dinner with 3-4 neighbors where you each take a course of the meal. This gives them ownership and it spreads the work out to everyone.
- Do an Ice cream social at your house and have everyone bring a topping to share.
- Look for opportunities as you get to know your neighbors to serve them. Offer to help watch their house on a vacation or take care of their pets. See a need, ask if you can help them with it. Out working on a car, lawn, or project – ask if you can help.
- Start a neighborhood watch program.
- Start a backyard play group with other families.
- Start a community garden where everyone comes together for one garden. It is much more fun to work together pulling weeds than by yourself. Have a big harvest party at the end of the summer and enjoy the spoils.
- If there are things you enjoy to do? (crafts, scrapbooking, hobbies, woodworking, etc) Start a monthly time where you do what you enjoy with others!
- Warning. Be careful in mixing business with outreach. You don’t want people to think you have ulterior motives other than just loving them and building community.
- Walk kids to school with others. This is a great time to get to know others!
- Host a backyard movie night where you show a family movie through a projector on a sheet you hang up. It will be like your own version of a drive-in theatre.
Don’t be overwhelmed, start with one or two things. Step out in faith loving Jesus and loving others. As you step out in faith, being intentional to pursue relationship with others, I believe God will use it! Watch what God will do in your own life and through your life! Don’t be surprised when you are overwhelmed by JOY as you step out to cultivate redemptive relationships with your neighbors!!