It's “neighboring” season in America!
Jesus is already on the loose in your neighborhood pursuing His Father’s mission of redemption and restoration. And He invites you to join Him! One of the simplest ways to do this is through “neighboring.”
“Neighboring” is how we get to know our neighbors. Neighboring takes seriously the fact that mission happens best in a context where relationship and friendship have been cultivated over time. Neighboring may happen through a planned event like a cookout or through something more spontaneous like stopping for a chat while walking the dog. Either way, neighboring puts us into position to start finding out who our neighbor is, what their story is and what Jesus already seems to be up to in their life.
On pages 149-151of the book, “Joining Jesus on His Mission” I share 30 ideas we have used over the years that put us into position to meet and enjoy neighbors. Some are more for introverts some are more for extroverts (why not team up and make it easier for both!). Some are planned, some spontaneous. However, all these ideas have been tried and found to work. (Order the book by clicking here. For quantity orders, email me for discounts at firstname.lastname@example.org)
I enjoy receiving emails from people telling the stories of how things are going in their neighborhood. I have included a few below to encourage and inspire you to give neighboring a go during these summer months.
From Tricia in Kentucky (a pastor’s wife): We had our first intentional front porch conversation with our new neighbors. Turns out, they moved here from California believing they would be neighborhood missionaries. All it took was an offer of coconut cream pie to open the flood gates. Chatted for 2 hours - decided on a neighborhood connecting time - he even prayed over my husband who had surgery earlier in the week (such a role reversal). When Jesus is already there, you just need an open heart when you show up to the conversation. Thanks be to God for His perfect timing. PS- they were sitting out in their driveway for a few days. I should have known what they were planning! Going to give them your book.
From Pat in Austin (an instructor at Concordia University): On Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter I baked a bunch of muffins and gave them away house to house in our neighborhood. Had some neat conversations and also got a few prayer requests. On Easter morning there was a little basket of candy on our doorstep, and one of our neighbors wrote us this note (which totally made my day).
“Thank you – It’s not just the muffins or the thoughtful sharing but a quality reminder of fellowship in our community and the desire to inspire and make the LORD present in our daily lives. Jesus lives!” Deborah
From a widow in California: I have an unusual opportunity here because I own a home and rent out the bedrooms to students to pay my mortgage. I am always looking for ways to reach out to them, as most are not believers. I have found a group of students who worship on campus on Sunday nights, and I was able to connect 2 students with each other – one who was homeless and still struggles with alcohol and drugs from time to time and another who is active in the group on campus. What a blessing to have them thank me for connecting them together.
From Donna (a retired teacher): I took care of my son's chickens while he was out of town.. They were producing eggs faster than I could eat or store them so I began distributing a dozen at a time to my neighbors. It gave me an opportunity to talk with my neighbors, and I even got to know one neighbor that I have been trying to love as Christ has asked us all to do, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." We had great conversation and he was quite friendly, much to my surprise! It was a blessing to me because Jesus was already ahead of me, preparing my path. I never thought being “The Egg Lady" would be a ministry opportunity!
From a couple in San Diego: We had a neighborhood gathering which we had been hoping to have for over a year. We finally met last night and just got to know one another for the first time. Originally we hoped to have 6-8 folks but we ended up with over 30 adults, 8 children and 3 nuns...they all seemed hungry for this time together...that lasted over 3 hours! Great fellowship...getting to know each other and sharing our lives...I was overwhelmed with what was happening! I don't know where God will take this...but it is exciting! I share this, because others may have a vision just waiting to happen! Please pray for this group of wonderful people.
Does Jesus have a vision just waiting to happen in your neighborhood, too? There’s only one way to find out. Let neighboring season begin!
If you have a story to share, please email it to me! You can help encourage others, too.