Christians Must Practice Intentional Neighboring

For the past while we have been studying the subject of “Discipleship,” not just to have something to fill the class time, but indeed to CHANGE OR LIVES AND DIRECTION. The book we are using is Jim Putman’s work “real life discipleship” (training manual). It has not been easy, especially for those who are seriously considering this. The key verse of the study is, And He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). It deals with not just HEAD KNOWLEDGE, but also, HEART and HANDS!!! The progressing from “head,” to “heart and hands,” is real! We have a lot of head knowledge, but motivating Christians to putting this to work in every day lives is another matter altogether. Without this, the process stops dead.

In this little article I wanted to share something which might just help you. The basis for the article is taken from an article which came out in THE CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE (Editorial) some time ago. This article deals basically with the idea of house churches or small groups, which is something mentioned in our studies on DISCIPLESHIP. Here I will quote part of it and add some comments…

“CHRISTIANS MUST PRACTICE INTENTIONAL NEIGHBORING.”

“Do our neighbors go to church? Do we know if our neighbors go to church? DO WE EVEN KNOW OUR NEIGHBORS? As we rush from church events to work, as we engage with family, friends and strangers through social media, it is easy for us to lose sight of the souls next door.

“Often we’re more willing to take the Gospel to faraway lands than down the block.

“… many Christians worship in homes. Some do so because they have no other options. Other have lots of options, but long for a close-knit sense of community… We also learned that starting and maintaining a house church isn’t easy It takes more than inviting people to worship. Rather, church planters call for “intentional neighboring.” We must make a prayerful effort to get to know those who live around us. We must get involved in their lives. We must let them see Christ in us.
“This process can take months – even years – but it can yield believers of strong faith who may one day plant new congregations (house churches).

“Whether our churches meet in living rooms or large auditoriums, we must take time to know and love our neighbors. Not only does this have the potential to multiply churches, but this practice helps show the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities of this world, as Paul challenges us in Ephesians 3:10.”

So how can we do this? Here are some ideas. 1.) Just play basketball with them when we see them on the street throwing “hoops.” 2.) Invite them to a BBQ when we are planning one. 3.) Bake something and just take it next door. 4.) When you hear of someone sick, then offer to do something to help. 5.) When someone passes away, take some flowers and express sympathy. 6.) Say “hi!” when you are out for a walk… Maybe even stop a moment and introduce yourself. 7.) On holidays, make cookies, (or something nice), bag them with a little card inside. 8.) Be friendly! Share! Do! Be!

The idea that you always have to be out proselyting or “out to get ’em,” may be the way “it used to be done,” but now days… people are in deep need of a friend! There is a time for getting out your Bible and sharing the Word of God. Remember the idea of establishing relationship? Well, this is part of it. A very important part of it. Someone rightly said, “I’s rather SEE a sermon than HEAR one.” So keep in mind, while you are going about life, you can “share the Gospel” by showing the Gospel. Perhaps that is a better first step than knocking on the door and handing out tracts.

Just consider Jesus. He was not all talk, and no action. He also fed the hungry, touched the lonely and isolated, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He filled wine bottles, he calmed storms and cried with the hurting. He was intentional and so must we be if we are to follow Him.

Grow in grace!

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