A CellChurch reader recently emailed me to ask this question: "We're in a bedroom community in a suburban area of a large city. At night, people come home from work, press the button on the garage door opener, pull in their car and go inside. They don't come out to meet their neighbors, and these are some of the most anti-social people I've encountered! How can I get to know the people who live around me to build relationships and see them come to Christ?"
This is a common problem in our society. The combination of cable TV and attached garages in suburbia have made the "friendly neighbor" a thing of the past for the most part. Making the assumption that your neighbors will rarely ask to borrow a tool or cup of sugar, here are a few ideas to get into their lives:
- Prayer-walk the streets in you neighborhood on a daily basis. Since we all need exercise, walking around the block a few times is good for you. While you're walking, ask God to open doors in each of the homes you pass. Ask Him for an opportunity to serve or be served by the families inside. Prayer-walking is also spiritual warfare, so do not neglect to ask God to do battle in the heavenlies for freedom for individuals in your area.
- As I stated in #1, if your neighbors don't ask you for favors, then ask them to serve you in some way! The idea is just to get the ball rolling of doing favors and helping one another to create a friendship. While your first request should not be a 5 A.M. ride to the local airport, a request to help you move a couch, get advice on a garden project, borrow a tool (returned promptly and clean, I might add!) will give them the feeling that they have done you a favor and you "owe them one." Now you can invite them over for a barbecue or pizza to thank them. The bigger the request you make, the more likely they will be to allow you to repay them in some way. (Note: This works best after you have prayed for them daily for at least two weeks. Some folks warm up to neighbors fast; other will take some time because they have lots of hurts, secrets to hide, or they've had lousy neighbors before you came along.)