My church is about to celebrate 80 years since being dedicated here in a little residential neighborhood in Sikeston, Missouri.
When thinking about what our theme for the anniversary celebration should be, what immediately came to mind was a concept of being a good neighbor.
What does it look like for a church to be neighborly?
Many people may interpret being neighborly for a church means only to give people money when they need it. Maybe it only means to feed the neighbors for holidays take the elderly meals.
What if my little church doesn’t have the money for that? What if we’ve never had that kind of money?
No matter what you’re plans may be and no matter what big ideas you have had in the past, you can start being a loving and neighborly church right now…for free!
5 Ways the Church Can Be More Neighborly
1. Say “Hello” to Your Neighbors
When is the last time you spoke to your neighbors? In today’s world, we tend to not speak to our next door neighbors where we live, let alone speak to the neighbors where we go to church! Your church can be a more loving neighbor when you intentionally meet your neighbors. You can accomplish this by literally saying “hello” when you see them outside the church building or by inviting them to an event. You can also knock on the doors of your immediate neighbors and simply ask them if there is anything your church can do for them.
Brainstorm with some friends and see what you can come up with. Our church is going to celebrate our anniversary by visiting our neighbors and bringing them a treat.
2. Encourage Your Neighbors
The great thing about being neighborly is this: you know exactly how to encourage your community because you live there! If you need encouragement, odds are the people around you do as well. The people in your community need encouraged in the same ways you need and at many of the same times: when students go back to school, when money is tight during the holidays, during elections, when factories close and jobs are lost, and after natural disasters and traumatic events.
Encourage your neighbors. You can do this with a cool sign in the yard or through your social media channels. You can stop by their homes after the community experiences a traumatic or painful event. You can visit with the police and fire departments in your communities.
3. Serve Your Neighbors
Jesus served everywhere He went. It was His goal and purpose to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth. How can you do the same as a church? Perhaps your neighborhood has one lone house that cannot keep the lawn clipped. Maybe an organization such as a food bank needs volunteers. It may be trash cleanups after a carnival or putting in hours at the community Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever way your community is already getting served, jump in and help!
What kinds of things do you need? Whatever you need, your community likely needs those things as well.
4. Pray for Your Neighbors
It may be that some of your neighbors have never had someone pray for them or teach them to pray. You can start a chain of events by praying for your neighbors as often as possible. This can become a social event in which members get together monthly or weekly to pray and walk around the neighborhood. You can also simply knock on doors and offer to pray for your literal neighbors.
Pray for your next door neighbors, for your community leaders, for the teachers in the schools, and for every student and family they represent.
5. Share Jesus with Your Neighbors
You don’t have to plan another program. You just have to love like Jesus in order to share Jesus. When we become good neighbors and be good to our neighbors, we will share Jesus. Christ’s method of evangelism was not to hold large meetings (even though He periodically had large audiences). To follow Christ’s method is to share Jesus’ love by meeting every need and touching every heart.
Christ’s method, explained in the Ministry of Healing, is as follows:
- Jesus mingled with people as One who desired their good. (He opened networks.)
- Jesus sympathized with people. (He formed attachments.)
- Jesus ministered to their needs. (This also formed attachments.)
- When He combined the first, second, and third elements, He won people’s confidence.
- “Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’” (to become disciples).
Being a Good Neighbor
Don’t take my word for it…when it comes to being a more loving neighbor, Jesus has the best advice of all.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.