When I lived in the suburbs of Richmond VA I experienced the lack of a sense of community in our neighborhood.
We had all bought nice houses, but with the exception of one family, we didn’t know any of the neighbors.
What a contrast to our former subdivision where we knew everyone on the cul-de-sac, and had regular time with them all.
Over the course of 5 years there, we prayed with many of them, and several eventually came to faith in Christ and got connected with a church.
Jesus says that we are the light of the world, yet how many of us commute more than 10 miles to go to church, bypassing 40 homes in our same subdivision?
How can we live out the notion of “every house a lighthouse” or “every house a church?”
How can we break through the bubble of not knowing our neighbors?
If God has appointed the time and season of where you live, how can you be a tool in God’s use to impact your neighborhood with the Gospel?
TEN missional ideas for building neighborhood relationships.
- Host a neighborhood block party on your street.
- Host marriage enrichment seminars in your home for neighbors.
- Start a playgroup with other stay at home parents. Don’t forget the stay at home dads. I was a stay at home dad so I know how important this is.
- Distribute homemade gifts to your neighbors at Christmas time. Include a tactful card that points to Christ.
- Invite those without nearby family over for a holiday meal (for example: singles, internationals, divorced or widowed).
- Conduct a Backyard Bible Club during the summer for neighborhood kids.
- Host a baby shower for a neighbor who is expecting. Make sure you include their friends not just yours(!)
- Offer to host a weekly discussion group or Bible Study. Invite Christian and non-Christian friends to participate.
- Coordinate a Bring your Own Main Course night. You supply the grill, and everyone brings their own meat or veggie dish. Have some families bring side dishes while others bring drinks or dessert.
- Invite the neighbors over to watch a ball game or the mother of all USA sporting events-the Super Bowl.
For that last one, no matter where in the world we personally live, we are American on that Super Bowl Sunday and will invite the neighbors over.
Other times, we’ll join them for the World Cup soccer games, even though I still don’t know the rules.
Build genuine relationship that allows room for spiritual conversation (but don’t ruin a friendship over a forced conversation). Once a good relationship is built, look for opportunity to share your faith in Christ in a manner that is appropriate and real.
Let me ask you this:
What do you do to build relationship with your neighbors? When was the last time you actually spent time with your neighbor?
Evangelism in the 21st Century
Evangelism in the 21st century will not be solely dependent on the church. The growing number of “spiritual but not religious” people means that more people will need to hear the gospel through conversations with Christians.
You’ll need to be able to comfortably talk about your faith in Christ without being obnoxious about it.
I have a DVD set that focuses on a conversational style evangelism that would be effective in:
- casual conversation between friends
- causal conversation between strangers
Read more about the Effective Evangelism Conversations in the store.
It is a recording of a live seminar I gave in 2012.
Thanks Chris. It would be hard to add anything to your article; perhaps only this personalized application…
Whether words or actions… or even both… people are going to misinterpret whatever they feel like misinterpreting. If people have some emotional attachment to an idea, belief, relationship, ethnicity or god… they’ll conjure up whatever ‘defense’ they choose to. We know from scripture that only the Holy Spirit’s awakening power can effectively draw them into a Kingdom understanding, repentance and trust in Christ as Lord.
That said, we still do the very BEST we can to demonstrate & enunciate the gospel. My advice? Let me pass along what a marital counselor once told me… “Neil, it’s not so important that you be understood as it is that you NOT be MISunderstood.” That is, over time, you can BE more & more understood, if you don’t shut down communication with a misunderstanding first. How to apply that here? For me personally, I include the use of the internet for a clear writing of my story/testimony (at my personal site)…. for anyone who cares to read it.
And I maintain a neighborhood website that includes helpful neighborhood info, pictures, videos, and links to personal sites (including mine).
Start a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ group and invite all the neighbors. Start with coffee and dessert after a work day perhaps. You can collate a list of names and phone numbers of neighbors, and organise a regular time to meet, perhaps bi-monthly. Get a police officer to come and speak on home and personal safety, and another time, have a talk on disaster preparedness. People relate positively to practical concern for their safety and welfare. Then when you establish that you care, you’ve earned their trust and can speak into their lives. And, above all, undergird all with prayer and ask the Lord for His keys to their hearts.