As a church planter with a passion for changing neighbours from strangers to friends in meaningful relationships, I wanted to share a few ways you can start being active in YOUR neighbourhood.
- Find a neighbour who is willing to partner with you. This is someone who shares the vision of having a healthy neighbourhood. Perhaps there is more than one, but these are the people who will add, not take away from the journey into your neighbourhood. This may be a Christian (they believe in loving neighbours), or simply a person who is willing to work with you (a person of peace). Regardless, they are a lifeline and keep you from feeling alone in moving forward.
- Identify your neighbours and neighbourhood. When I first started seriously considering my neighbours, I did not even know what that meant, until I got together with the neighbours I described in the first step to have some coffee and actually draw (map) your neighbourhood. This helped identify boundaries. This may not be the same for others, but that’s OK. We even went as far as writing the info we knew that made up those who lived in our neighbourhood. This was very helpful for all of us and was a great excuse for getting together.
- Walk your neighbourhood. This could be step one if you already have identified your neighbourhood. I do this alone, or with my wife and even with our children. We have walked with neighbours, and I have heard that some neighbours have found this to be the foundation of a somewhat regular gathering. Walking your neighbourhood allows you to observe the characteristics that make up where you live.
- Pray. We do not need to wait for problems, pain or panic to motivate us to pray. Simply recognize that, statistically, the homes around you encompass beauty and brokenness. The home next to yours will have everything from joy to pain on any given day; there you will find both happiness and sadness. Eventually, you will discover more specific details for prayer, but we all can start by praying, “Our Father, in Heaven, bless those kids during this exam time”, or “be with the family whose car has obvious new damage”, or “give us an understanding as to what to do with the party house across the street…may your Kingdom come and your will be done in our neighbourhood as it is in Heaven.”
- Give. This could be time, talents or treasure. Just pick one neighbour who you are led to believe may receive your gift (you may want to first pray this through). You may want to think about giving food or a bottle of wine, tickets that you possess, a benefit from your hobby, an invitation or a helping hand.