First Steps

Download “Neighboring Ideas for Churches

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

A congregation’s involvement in the community is its expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed, building life-long relationships. Every Christian church is to share the gospel and help people grow in their faith. A church extends its reach across the cultural, community, and geographic boundaries through transforming relationships.

Jesus calls us to move with him in his neighborhoods until our earthly journey ends (John 1.14). We are not only recipients of God’s love but also ambassadors of God’s purposes (2 Cor. 5.17-19).

Jesus saw and loved people on the move and those who did not have a fair place at the table. Jesus doesn’t just teach, heal, feed, and accompany people—he restores them as expressions of God’s love in God’s world. God’s love does not reach from afar; instead, it requires incarnation to move into the neighborhood. God grant us eyes to see like Jesus.

You don’t need a great strategic plan to move with Jesus in the neighborhood. Instead, with simple steps, you can encourage and help your church be a part of the community rather than the community coming to the church as outsiders. Individuals, small groups, and congregations can effectively use these steps and have an impactful presence in your neighborhood and community.

Pray

  • Pray for God to create opportunities to talk with your neighbors.
  • Prayer walk your neighborhood
  • Pray specifically for others in the neighborhood
  • Pray for grace when neighbors’ lifestyle choices and actions differ from yours.

Be With Your Neighbors

  • Be Jesus in your neighborhood: Be friendly, be kind, be thoughtful, be engaging.
  • Create space in your life so you don’t miss opportunities to be with neighbors.
  • Attend social gatherings in the neighborhood.
  • Get to know and understand the stories of your neighbors and community.
  • Be available to neighbors. Walk with others, have meals together, visit the playground with your children, etc.
  • Offer help to neighbors with yard work or shoveling snow. Don’t wait for an invitation to help them.

Compassion and Care

  • Celebrate neighbors’ life events: births, graduations, promotions, new jobs, etc.
  • Console and support when there is an illness or a death.
  • Welcome new people to the neighborhood and bless people moving to another area.
  • Love your neighbor. Share God’s love. Please don’t make it your plan to fix people.

Share the Journey

  • Bring other disciples along with you. Others can encourage you when you are discouraged, offer insight when struggling, and celebrate occurrences of transformation.