By Stacey Coldiron
In July, we encouraged our congregation at Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren to go out and be “Jesus in the neighborhood.” It can be challenging to meet and get to know your neighbors when many families stay to themselves and are so busy. Being Jesus to a neighbor can be as simple as helping them carry in their groceries, or mowing someone’s yard when they’re going through a hard time, or just asking how they really are doing.
Doing these things are much easier if you’ve met your neighbors, so we encouraged our families to host block parties. We designed invitations that could be used and offered $100 gift cards for groceries to offset the cost. We had 11 families participate and 8 block parties were held. More than 400 people attended these parties and made connections to their neighbors. Most of those who attended were not church members and many do not attend any church.
At one party, the age span that gathered was 2 months to 80! What a blessing to have multiple generations together and getting to know one another. Neighbors enjoyed it so much that they suggested to their hosts that they would like to do these gatherings more often. One older neighbor told a younger family that if they ever needed an egg or baking soda to come to her and ask. One 9-year-old was asked, “What blessings has God given you?” and her response was, “The block party.”
New connections have been made all over our community, which we pray will continue to grow. We as believers at Ephrata Church of the Brethren are learning how to be innovative, adaptable, and fearless disciples of Jesus so that we can lead more people to him.
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