To paraphrase C.S. Lewis:
“The world is asleep in an evil enchantment.”
Ideas on Being a Good Neighbor
So how do we wake up our neighbors who are asleep “under an evil enchantment?” Pray, pray, pray. But what do you do after or, better, as you continue to pray. Short answer: Engage your neighbors in an intensely local way. See below for some ideas.
I’m convinced that churches need to relearn how to re-engage with their neighbors and take the gospel to the streets in some simple (anybody can do) ways. Here’s a grab-bag of ideas to stimulate your thinking. All of these are under the idea of being “intensely local” with one or two exceptions.
Intensely local ministry is an investment and investments take time to compound and grow. —financial investments take time to grow and so do relational and ministry investments. At first, the payoff for investing seems slow and puny. But like the twenty year old who invest $100 a month for 45 years and finds that their total investment of $54,000 yields between $137,136 and $251,661 by age 65*, so too the investments we make in our neighborhoods in an intensely local fashion, yields results far beyond what we might expect. (* based on interest rates of between 3.5 to 5.5 compounded daily.)
What does it take to change a neighborhood? What does it take to reach a neighborhood for Christ? How do comfort-loving, convenience-oriented, security-driven American Christians overcome their tendency to wait for people to come to them and instead, take the gospel to their neighbors in ways that their neighbors can see the beauty and love of Christ?
Be a neighbor. Find a need and meet it with mercy and love.
- Intensely local ministry is beginning to ask the question, “how could you touch your neighbor with compassion?”
- Intensely local ministry is an “eyes open” engagement with need and opportunity in the neighborhood.
- Intensely local ministry means we step in to stop the fight between kids who aren’t ours.
- Intensely local ministry means turning off the TV and looking for opportunities to serve the neighborhood.
- Intensely local ministry means sacrificing for neighbors (even the ones I don’t like, and struggle to love) without grumbling, and with real joy.
- Intensely local ministry might mean having lunch/play-date with a couple you meet at the library. (Which is reason enough to go to the library.)
- Intensely local ministry might be as simple as sustaining a friendship made at the dog park beyond the dog park, or the person you sat down next to at your son or daughter’s ball game, recital, or tournament.
- Intensely local ministry might be as simple as taking a walk in your neighborhood and talking to whomever you run across.
- Intensely local ministry is centered in real, discovered-needs in the ‘hood, not theoretical needs found in a book.
- Intensely local ministry is about not wasting time so you have more time to invest with your neighbors.
- Intensely local ministry is as simple as backing your car out of the driveway so the neighbor’s boys can play basketball on your hoop.
- Intensely local ministry is keenly connected to the seasons, trials, and triumphs of neighbor’s lives.
- Intensely local ministry is long-term, patient, and Christ dependent.
- Intensely local ministry is as simple as offering freshly cut asparagus to your neighbor, or tomatoes from the garden, or shoveling the snow from his sidewalk.
- Intensely local ministry means simply treating the neighborhood like family.
- Intensely local ministry is allowing neighbors to be close enough to see your hunt for truth and joy in Christ.
The Important thing is to find a need and meet it, to do it in Jesus name and saturated with believing prayer. Leave the results to God but be a neighbor who lives for more than comfort, convenience, and security. Live passionately for and like Jesus. Be a good neighbor. Be a good Samaritan.