When the special programs and services for Christmas are all finished, you’re going to want to go home and hide. Don’t do it! The Christmas season has too much potential for you to be a missionary in your neighborhood. Don’t hide in your home.
Do you even know your neighbors? Can you go two houses on either side of you and four houses across the street and tell me the names of each family member and where they work or go to school? If not, why not? Here are some strategies for getting to know your neighbors to develop witnessing relationships:
• Bake some cookies or buy some bakery goods and deliver them to your neighbors face to face at their front door. Or take your family caroling to your neighbors. Introduce yourself, give them a gift, and ask them how you can pray for them this holiday season.
• Invite neighborhood kids to come over and play with your kids or with your grandkids when they visit. Engage parents in conversations while your kids play together. Ask how they celebrate Christmas then share how your family celebrates Christ and why.
• Host a Christmas or New Year’s drop-in for your neighbors in your home. Give each one who attends a small gift that points to Christ and tells the gospel story.
• Host a neighborhood Christmas movie early one evening on your back porch or driveway with a video projector, DVD player, and video screen around a fire pit or clay chimnea. (Copyright laws allow screenings of commercial movies in your family setting with friends as long as there is no monetary charge.)
• Organize a neighborhood e-mail group list so you can communicate needs like hospitalizations, family deaths, or neighborhood watch when someone leaves home for the holidays.
• Host a football bowl watching party or NFL playoff watching party in your home.
• Organize a neighborhood coat drive, a toy drive, or a canned goods drive for donation to needy families at Christmas through a local charity.
Several years ago, I noticed that a neighbor’s mother had come to live with them. This neighbor had not been very social, but I sought them out to ask about the Mom who was now living there. They told me that she had cancer and doctors had told her she could no longer live alone.
A month or so later, the wife came across the street while I was doing yard work. “Aren’t you a Lutheran minister or something?” she inquired. “I am a Baptist Worship Pastor”, I replied smiling. “Okay, never mind then,” she said. I stopped her, “Wait, what do you need?” She began to cry and said, “My mother-in-law is dying and we don’t know what to do.” I cleaned up quickly, went across the street, and began to minister to them. We gathered around the bedside and I held her mother-in-law’s hand and talked with her and the family. We prayed together and talked together softly. I read scripture and discovered that she was a faithful Methodist Christian. I also found out that my neighbors did not have an active faith in Christ. She died that evening. We organized our neighbors to provide a meal for them after the funeral.
That was several years ago, and we have had the couple over for dinner, had their kids play with our grandkids, and talked with them openly of our relationship with Christ. Recently, the wife began to attend a ladies’ Bible Study at the local Methodist Church and the husband now takes his kids to church on Sunday mornings while his wife works the weekend shift as a nurse.
God is at work through us. The story continues! Make your neighborhood your mission field… and make it personal.