This is God’s kingdom. He is in charge. He knows His plans. Jesus called disciples to Himself to walk with Him on earth and to go under His authority after He ascended. He told them to go and make disciples and share with these new disciples all the things that Jesus had taught them.
It is important that we remember that no one comes to God except that God opens their eyes and their heart so that they can believe. Therefore it is futile for us to go with our own plans and our own agendas to do God’s work. Because this is God’s kingdom and there are many who need to be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, it is imperative that we must ask guidance from God as we go.
- We must first pray. A prayer walk in our neighborhood is a great way to begin. We must ask Him to open hearts and eyes. We must ask Him to show us the people whom He has already begun a work in their lives. We must ask Him to give us favor as we go. In other words, we must go under His leadership and under His guidance, receptive to what He is doing and desiring to be a part of His work.
- As we walk in our neighborhoods we can observe what we see. Are there children in the homes? Is the yard and house neat or is it not well kept, indicating busyness or illness or crisis in that home?
- Next we begin to get to know our neighbors. There can be a couple of ways to go about this or a combination of a couple of ways. We can start to build relationships with our closest neighbors. I know that Colin Rowley began to get to know his neighbors by asking to borrow yard tools from them. Start a conversation over the fence or when you or they are coming or going. We can also try to create a space for community and begin to gather our neighbors. Moriah Tuchman has a turquoise table (The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell) in her front yard and provides opportunities for her neighbors to gather there. Judy Streich has recently moved to a new neighborhood and is planning a tea for the women so that she can begin to get to know them.
- Cultivate relationships. Michelle and Travis Rouscher have been doing this for a while. They invite their neighbors and their life group and others they meet to a gathering at their house every other month. These gatherings can be cook-outs or pancake breakfasts. The purpose is not only to cultivate relationships but also to provide opportunities for their neighbors to get to meet other Christians. Lorrell Holtz-Oxley gets to know people, not necessarily in her neighborhood, but certainly in her small community of Saxapahaw, by gathering a group of women to do needlework of some kind every week. Other ways to do this are through game nights, book clubs, or movie nights. The possibilities are endless.
- Now what? What you are already beginning to do is to disciple your neighbors toward Christ, just through your relationship with them. Judy Streich reminded me that Jesus’ disciples did not come to Him already knowing who He was. He called them and invited them to walk with Him, constantly teaching them about who He was and what His purposes were. Even when He went to the cross, they still didn’t understand much about Him. Therefore we should not expect discipling our neighbors and friends to be a quick work. As you get to know them, opportunities for deeper conversations will come. Tina Nicholson moved into a new neighborhood recently and has been cultivating a relationship with a lady. Just recently the woman has encountered a health crisis and shared about it with Tina. Tina was able to encourage her neighbor by letting her know that she would be praying for her in her crisis.
- Tina’s example reminds me that our serving our neighbors can do so much to cultivate relationships and to let our light shine. There are a multitude of ways we can serve our neighbors. Are there health or family crises? Can we make a grocery run, deliver a meal, take children to or pick up from school? Can we cut the grass? Can we take time for a cup of coffee and sit to listen? Can we brighten our neighborhood by doing something particularly beautiful or by organizing something that is really fun? Ask God to help you see needs and ways of serving.
Our goal is to cooperate with God to bring our neighbors and others we meet out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. Some people are already close to coming to know God. Others may need more time before they can understand who God is and where they fit into God’s plan. Our responsibility is to be available to God, to listen well, to allow Him to shape our hearts and minds so that we can receive the strangers He brings into our lives. He will guide our conversations. He will let us know who is ready for a Bible study. Don’t forge ahead! This is His kingdom work.
Where are you in your neighborhood journey?