I live in a great neighborhood! Our home is at the end of a cul-de-sac and, each year, we all get to know one another just a little bit better. We have attended each other's Pampered Chef™ and Tupperware™ parties. We have gathered for summer BBQ's and festive Christmas parties. We have seen grown children off to college, celebrated marriages, and formed search parties for lost pets. Most recently, the neighborhood welcomed my husband home after seeing him off to a deployment in Kosovo a year ago. We all live very different lives and not all have an active relationship with God, but we connect on the level that we care for one another. The remarkable thing about the relationship we have with our neighbors is that my family and I have only lived here for three years. Actively caring for one another definitely launches neighbor relationships light-years ahead of the usual wave-from-the-mailbox relationships.
This month, take part, or all, of one meeting to discuss each other's neighborhoods. Begin by handing a sheet of paper to each person. Ask them to write down the names of 5 neighbors living closest to them. Next, have them write down 5 things they have done with these neighbors in the past three years. (I'm guessing that my neighborhood is an exception to most of the neighborhoods of the new millennium. Busyness often prevents us from getting to know more about our neighbors than the model and make of their cars. Yet, I believe, the opportunities for outreach in each one of our neighborhoods are many. A little bit of effort will go a long way in building a strong sense of community where before there has only been apathy.) After everyone has had a chance to share, hand out a "Neighborhood Watch" covenant that can include, but is not limited to:
I will pray for 5 or more of my neighbors on a regular basis.
I will make an effort to learn each one of their names and the names of their children.
I will attempt to perform an act of kindness for one or more of my neighbors _________ times in the coming year.
I will encourage my fellow small group members to develop relationships with their neighbors and to commit to pray for them.
Use this covenant to support and encourage one another throughout the coming year. Be prepared to join together as a "Neighborhood Watch" group if a crisis arises in one of the neighborhoods (fire, loss of job, a move, illness or death, etc.). Be alert to opportunities for inviting these neighbors to your small group or for beginning a neighborhood small group.