Pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training which means now is the time to begin praying and planning for what you and your church will do to take the gospel to your community. Here’s a grab bag of 7 ideas for your Spring outreach.
- Spring clean up: Find the oldest, neediest, or maybe the couple with the youngest children and figure out a way to help with all the Spring things that need to get done. Go help them do it. (Things like pulling weeds, and seeding lawns and planting flowers, and tilling the ground for gardens, and racking thatch, and trimming bushes, etc., are all great times to talk and love on your neighbors and see where God might take your prayer-saturated interaction.)
- Spring coaching opportunities: There is no baseball or soccer program that couldn’t use more help. These are great opportunities to serve, enjoy a sport, get some exercise yourself, invest in the character building of the next generation, and relate to parents and kids from your community. Maybe this Spring is your year to get out and get involved.
- Plant your garden with the neighbors in mind. Think of plants that produce more than you need. Bless your neighbors with gifts of home-grown food the rest of the summer.
- Speaking of gardens, help your neighbor
plant his/hers. Older neighbors might need help preparing the soil. Inexperienced neighbors may need your advice. New neighbors might need to know where to go to get the things they need. Have a shared space between houses? Think about approaching your neighbor about putting in a raised garden bed for vegetables or flowers. If they aren’t interested at least you had a conversation which God may use in some other way in the future.
- Remember Easter Season: Don’t just think of Easter or even Easter Weekend, but think of how you might use Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and a Post-Easter series to offer your community a new glimpse of the glory of the gospel. If your own church doesn’t have any special services on Ash Wednesday or Palm Sunday or Good Friday, find a church that does and take your friends or invite your friends to attend them with you. Some churches will have concerts and children’s programs. Use them well. Invite your friends and neighbors. If your neighbors love your children there is a good chance they will try to attend that special event at the church that they happen to be a part of.
- Spring is the time to plan community involvement in the summer. Volunteering at the Library, summer block parties, neighborhood BBQ invites, Fourth of July parties, Memorial Day, Labor Day—all of these are opportunities to engage with neighbors. There is no impact without contact. These times, bathed in prayer, might be the beginning of one of your neighbors switching camps and joining the fellowship of the redeemed.
- Find out what your neighbors enjoy and join him/her. I know this has limits but there are lots of opportunities here. Do they like baseball? Invite them to a game. Do they like to fish? Ask them to show you one of their favorite spots. Do they like Westerns? Invite their family over for a movie-night. You get the idea. Be interested in them and what makes them tick. It’s all about building a reservoir of shared experiences so you are ready when the conversation turns. Pray that it does.
If you want to make disciples, you have to put yourself in the position to meet someone who needs Jesus. One mission, one way—making disciples in love.
Update: a winter story.
I went to a neighbor’s house to drop off a simple Christmas bag of candies to one of our neighbors. Hadn’t planned on it, but these words came out of my mouth as I handed the bag to my neighbor, “How are you doing?”
Pretty simple. Natural. Only four words.
My neighbor closed the door behind him, stepped out on to his porch, and said, “Not too well actually; _____________ moved out last Friday.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. . . .”
What ensued was a 10-minute conversation where I was able to share my desire to be a friend and to help in any way that I could and to assure my neighbor of my prayers for them. Since then, four other conversations and a new awareness of his situation and schedule that have made it possible to be a blessing and support to he and his family.
The point is, take the initiative. Every season of the year has new opportunities. Make sure this Spring is one that finds you faithful with whatever opportunities God gives you.