Part One of a two part series:
- Practice the Ministry of Presence. There is no influence without contact. My general rule is that if a neighbor invites me to anything, whatever was on my schedule is going to be replaced. My neighbors know I am a Christian. So when they are willing to take the risk of inviting me to their 4th of July party, their pool party, their New Years party, their Christmas party, etc., I am going to show up. Be present. Be around your neighbors on their turf. Once there, look for your opportunity to serve, love, share, and care for your neighbors.
- Create Some Opportunities to be Present. This is an expansion of #1. Do you have a home owners association? Start a Facebook page for it. Look for opportunities to engage with neighbors regularly. A dog is lost, . . . help the neighbor find it. A child’s bike is missing, . . . help the neighbor find it. In my neigbhrohood, I decided to announce a “first ever Monthly Men’s Night Out” at a local restuarant. I then prayed and hoped guys would show. Ten did and we had a great time together. When the meals started to arrive, somebody to the right of me asked if someone should say a blessing. I quickly volunteered and the meeting was off an running.
We are now planning a future men’s night outing to the local minor league baseball park in Charlotte.
Ladies, start a Ladies Night Out. Parents, plan birthday parties and invite the neighbors kids. Be present and watchful for the Spirit’s leading. When the kids are playing kick ball in the street, pull up a lawn chair and be the cheering section. Plan time on your dog walk to stop and talk with people. Ask the Spirit of God to use you as an encourager in people’s lives. He will. Just be availabledd
- Invite. The principle of invite is simply this. Take a risk and invite your neighbors to something. You are going out for ice-cream, invite the neighbor. You are going out to dinner, invite the neighbor. You are planning a trip to a ballgame, invite the neighbor. You are going to see a play, invite the neighbor. Invite them for a BBQ. Invite them for dinner. Most times people will say “no thank you” but that is not a defeat. That is a beginning. The second time, the third time, eventually, your friendly invitations will break down barriers and the soil for a new freindship will begin to grow.
- Serve and Sacrifice for Them. Cut a neighbors lawn. Retrieve the neighbors trash bins when they blow away. Give them produce from your garden. Listen to their concerns. Complement them on their children. Allow them to borrow your tools. Offer them your tools when they are working on a project. Offer them your help. When people see us sacrificing for them, they see Christ. Serving and sacrificing for others is how we “fill up what is lacking in sufferings of Christ” (Colossians 1:24).
A neighbor was bringing down a deck. It was simple thing to go over and help him pull nails and cut up boards for the fire. But the conversation was a bonus. It was an opportunity to connect and to begin to build trust. Few productive conversations about the gospel ever happen without a basic level of trust between the conversants. Look and pray for God to give you opportunities to serve. Keep your eyes and spirit open to how he leads.
Come back tomorrow for 5-7.