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Relational Evangelism

How To Be A Good Neighbor

By June 5, 2024June 7th, 2024No Comments

Introduction

Jesus defined our neighbor as anyone that needs us. In our effort to evangelize, we often look past our actual neighbors. You already have a way to connect if you are willing to use it. Take the challenge! 

Jesus defined our neighbor as anyone that needs us. 

“Who is my neighbor?” Jesus was asked this question when He told the crowd that His followers were to love their neighbors as themselves.  It was in answer to this question that Jesus told the story we know as “The Good Samaritan.”  In essence, Jesus illustrated and explained that we are to love anyone whose life intersects our own that needs our help. When we are close enough to touch someone, they are our neighbor, and we have a specific command to love them intentionally!  The Good Samaritan had to “cross the street”, get involved in a messy situation, and make a personal sacrifice to love his neighbor.  

In our efforts to evangelize, we often look past our actual neighbors. 

But what about your actual neighbors – the people whose properties are adjacent to yours?  Do you know them? Do you love them?  Do they know you love them? What evidence have you given them? Do you love them enough to share Jesus with them?  We are often tempted to do something sensational in evangelism for some “other people we haven’t met,” yet we look past the most obvious fields of ripe grain – our neighbors. 

Years ago, I was convicted about witnessing, but realized I had very few unsaved people in my life that would call me their friend.  “What about your neighbors?” I was asked. I’m ashamed to admit I had not even considered them!  I have neighbors on both sides, one behind, and one across the street.  I knew some of their names, but I knew for sure that none of them sensed genuine love from me.  What about loving them to Jesus?  And where would I begin if I was to start down this path of biblical living? 

You already have a way to connect if you are willing to use it. 

Tools are my thing.  I really enjoy a good tool because I love to do projects.  Almost every homeowner, whether they love projects or not, finds themself needing to fix some things from time to time.  Could tools be a connection-point with my neighbors?  I decided to try it out.  The first was my neighbor Sam.  He was trimming trees one day with a tiny keyhole saw while I had a chainsaw sitting on the bench in my garage.  I offered him the chainsaw and my assistance, and we have been good friends since.  Too simple, you say?  You might be surprised at how this simple act of kindness has resulted in shared cell phone numbers, invitations to coffee, visits to our church and remarkable opportunities for sharing the gospel. For my neighbor Christopher, it was a table saw, a sander for Keith, and a ladder for Terri.  These tools simply paved a path for me to start a friendship with each of my neighbors.  And each of those friendships has opened the door for gospel conversations with each of them!  I often think that a good gospel goal with my neighbors is for them to think of me as someone that genuinely loves them as a friend.  By God’s grace, I think that is true.  Remarkably, every one of these relationships got serious traction from sharing tools! 

What is your “thing”?  Maybe you can use your snowblower, lawnmower, camping supplies, hunting experiences, fire pit, grill or baking skills to intentionally sacrifice for redemptive relationships with the people that live near you.  Are you willing, like the Good Samaritan, to cross the street, get dirty, and intentionally sacrifice for people that do not yet consider you to be their friend? 

One of my colleagues walks a couple times each week with unsaved ladies from her neighborhood, looking for gospel opportunities.  Another lifts weights with friends that live nearby. Another has been attending special events with his neighbors in an attempt to get them to return the favor and come to church with him.  You’ve got something you can loan, share, or do to connect with your neighbors if you will accept the challenge! 

Conclusion: Take the challenge! 

Have you taken the “Find Five” challenge?  The Exchange Ministry challenges seminar attendees to consider five people to pray for and actively seek gospel opportunities with.  They might be current friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, or total strangers.  The point is to physically write down their names and then pray over those names, asking God for doors of opportunity and boldness to walk through those doors.  Would you take the challenge?  

Maybe you are like I was.  Maybe you are missing some of the most obvious fields of grain.  Start by identifying the names of everyone that lives in the houses whose properties touch yours.  Find a way to connect.  Make some new friends.  They might push back or ignore you, but don’t stop trying.  The call to make disciples of all nations begins on the other side of your fence! 

Brad Stille is the Lead Pastor at First Baptist Church of Wixom, Michigan and serves as an Exchange Trainer. Contact Brad about leading an Exchange Training Event or to discuss this article at [email protected] 

 

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