joining Jesus

What's Jesus Up To? Merry Neighboring!

The upcoming holiday season will provide many opportunities for us to join Jesus on His mission via Christmas parties, neighborhood open houses, cookie exchanges, New Year’s Eve celebrations, invitations to watch football games, and more. 'Tis the season!

Through events like these we have the opportunity to get to know the people God has placed in our lives. What’s their name? What’s their story? What’s Jesus already up to in their life?

The tool below will help you take your first-step or next-step on your mission adventure:

Step 1: Getting Started

“I don’t really know my neighbors yet.”

  • Many of us have successfully ignored our neighbors. So, how can we get started?

Goal: Meet your neighbors, learn their names, and get acquainted. (Share some time, share some laughs, share some stories and see what Jesus does.)

What’s your next step?

  • You can accept invitations you would have previously declined
  • Take holiday treats around to neighbors
  • Invite neighbors to an open house
  • Invite co-workers to watch a game
  • What’s your idea?

Step 2: Becoming Friends

“I am friendly with my neighbors, but I don’t feel like I have had many important conversations yet.”

  • Some of us have already started neighboring. We have had a neighborhood gathering or two. We are acquainted with several neighbors and are on friendly terms with them. We have shared some stories about who we are. But the conversations remain generally at a small-talk level.

Goal: Spend unhurried time with a few specific neighbors, usually around a meal. (By creating this kind of opportunity, you provide the space and time for more stories to be shared and for conversations to drift deeper. You will see the relationship move from “friendly” to “friendship.”)

What’s your next step?

  • Now that you have met your neighbors, it is time to focus on the ones who seem open to becoming better friends.
  • Invite a few households to a small holiday gathering: a white elephant gift exchange, a meal, dessert and coffee or a New Year’s Eve game night.
  • What’s your idea?

Step 3: Investing in Friendship

“I am becoming friends with people who are living without the grace and truth of Jesus.”

  • In the process of sharing stories and conversations with some of your neighbors, you have found that one (or a few) of them is living without the grace and truth of Jesus. While loving each neighbor is important, investing in friendships with the neighbors who are living without the grace and truth of Jesus becomes the priority. Why? It is Jesus’ priority. See Luke 19:10, Luke 15:1-32, 1 Timothy 1:15.

Goal: Become consistent at investing in your friendship with the one who is living without the grace and truth of Jesus.

What’s your next step?

  • Pray for your friend daily.
  • Go out of your way to check in with your friend weekly. “How’s your week going?”
  • Once a month, invite your friend to a meal. Even if you fall short of this goal, you will be together more often.
  • Invite them to join you in making a difference for other neighbors or people in the community. Working together for the good of others will open your conversations to the things of the Kingdom.
  • What’s your idea?

(For more information about “neighboring” see Greg Finke’s book, “Joining Jesus on His Mission” chapters 17-18.)

Merry Neighboring!