Good Neighbor Faux Pax – Well Meaning…But Oops!

Act 1 – The Arrival – My friends were excited to see a new neighbor moving in! They watched as she unloaded her belongings. She looked to be on her own. Exercising their good heartedness they asked if they could help. 

Guarded but also weary, she welcomed their help. Throughout the day and among the shuffling of boxes and furniture, they small talked and shared basic information. She was single, new to town, and didn’t know many folks. She was surprised that two strangers would help.

The knock at the door the next day brought their new neighbor with a pizza in hand. “I know it’s not much, but I wanted to say thank you” she went on to say. Great beginnings to good neighboring!

Act 2 – The Invitation – With Easter coming up and my friends church encouraging inviting new people to attend church they immediately thought of their new neighbor. Equipped with their four color invitation post card and inviting script they were prayerful, and both nervous and excited to invite their new neighbor to church (part of their church’s well defined mission). 

The day of the “ask” came. They went to their new neighbor’s door and knocked. She opened the door and seemed happy to see them. They then got down to business, handed her the invitation, hit the provided talking points of attending Easter, and then explained all the wonderful programs of their church. The conversation ended politely but they sensed something had not gone well. They wondered what they did wrong?

Act 3 – The Avoidance – Easter came and went and their new neighbor didn’t attend church with them. In fact, shortly thereafter they had an awkward mailroom passing  and the neighbor seemed curt and cool. Concerned, my friends prayed and contemplated the disconnect and decided for the wife to reach out to their neighbor to see if all was ok, which she did.

Act 4 – The Response – The neighbor was polite when asked but was upfront. “When you all helped me move I wondered if their was a catch. Why were you all being so nice? I really liked you all and thought wow how cool it was to have some neat neighbors. Then came the church thing. I don’t do the church thing. I am a spiritual person but not interested and don’t trust organized religion. Frankly I was super disappointed and kind of afraid that now you guys are always going to be asking me.” 

Act 5 – The Reality – My friends were taken aback and disappointed. For them inviting a person to church was a good thing. What was up with her response? Their world centered around their church activities and church friends. They just wanted her to be a part.

Enter me as a neighborhood advocate and community pastor and their question was this, “Why didn’t what we “do” work?” And my response in a nutshell, “It wasn’t necessarily what you “did” however what you “did not” do.

Our neighbors are not our “targets” to merely invite to church. Good neighboring is engaging in ongoing friendships (no strings attached) and then IF and on her timing, let her curiosity lead her to spiritual and life questions. As we  live out our faith (incarnation) as good neighbors in our communities (demonstrating) then we let God provide the opportunities (announcing) to others how they can experience the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven!

Want to learn more about being a good neighbor? 

On Saturday May 19th Forge Dallas and First United Methodist Church of McKinney are hosting a one day conversation of fresh insights and best practices of the life giving ways of good neighboring. This event is geared toward individuals, churches, community leaders and others looking to be a catalyst of good in their neighborhoods.

Every participant will receive the book Next Door As It Is In Heaven, a six-week neighborhood group study and implementation guide, and lunch provided, all for he cost of $39. This is the link to sign up or learn more: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/next-door-as-it-is-in-heaven-w…

Live humbly and kind,

Jim

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