Engage With Your Neighbors This Summer!
Posted Jun 08, 2017 by Kris Eldridge in Missions
Meet Josh Lilly and his family. Josh is Fellowship’s new Discipleship Pastor. I recently asked Josh and his family several questions around the topic of “how have you engaged with your neighbors?”
Kris: Josh, introduce us to your family.
Josh: My wife’s name is Sarah. We have been married for 10 years! We have two cool kiddos! Micah is 6 years old and Zachary is 3 years old.
Kris: Tell us more about yourselves
Josh: Most recently we came from San Angelo, Texas where we planted Sent Church. The idea of Sent Church comes from John 20:21 where Jesus said, “as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” We started the church by focusing on being Jesus in the places we lived, worked, and played.
Kris: I have heard that your family has done interesting things to love on your neighbors. Tell us about that.
Josh and Sarah: Yes! One of our favorite things in the world is to experience the blessing of knowing and loving our neighbors. We have found so much joy in the relationships that God has given us. We truly believe the second greatest commandment is to literally love our neighbor as ourselves. It is not always easy and takes time to get traction, but it is totally worth it. We have done a lot of things over the years to get to know our neighbors and to build relationships with them. We have found that throwing parties in our neighborhood and inviting our neighbors has been lots of fun! We typically use the already established holiday celebrations to build bridges with our neighbors. In the past, we have thrown parties on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas.
But, we have never had a year where we threw a party on every one of those days. Typically, we are good for Easter, July 4th, and either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Remember, you don’t have to have a Christmas party on Christmas Day. Be flexible. Enjoy the relationships. Figure out what works for your family.
Kris: Micah, what has been the favorite thing that you have done to love or serve your neighbors?
Micah: We gave one of our neighbors our toy kitchen and they gave us some cookies in return!
Kris: What has been some of the outcomes from serving your neighbors?
Josh: Wow. Well first, we need to remember that we love our neighbors because God loves them. Therefore, outcomes are not our primary goal. However, because we have the truth of the gospel and the hope that comes from being in Christ, we truly desire all our neighbors to come to know Jesus personally.
We can share many stories, but we specifically enjoy this one. We pulled together our neighbors a few years ago for an Easter dinner. We had everyone bring food. During the meal, Josh asked a simple question and asked everyone to share an answer. The question was, “what did Easter mean to you as a child?” As we went around the room we heard many answers…everything from “time with family” to the “Easter bunny.” Several of our neighbors did not know Jesus and had rarely been to church. We intentionally had some believing friends over for dinner (we always mix our church family with our neighborhood family). One of the people from our church family shared about Jesus and why we celebrate Easter. Our friends who did not know Jesus responded with many questions. After dinner was over, one of our neighborhood friends who did not know Jesus caught me in the kitchen and told me about his desire to raise his son to know Jesus. This was HUGE because it meant that at some point in our relationship together, this man had himself stepped over the line of faith into a relationship with Jesus. It was also BIG TIME because now he wanted to teach his son about Jesus.
Kris: If a family wants to do something this summer to engage their neighbors, what advice would you give them? Also, is there anything a family can do, but at the same time not "add something else" to their already busy schedule?
Josh: These are great questions. Sometimes we feel like we can’t possibly love our neighbors because we don’t have enough time. I would say that is a problem. We tend to glean to the margins as it relates to our time. If we don’t make time for our neighbors, we will never have time for them. Honestly, this is an obedience issue. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. We have found that getting to know our neighbors so that we can love them does not require a lot of time. However, we must be intentional.
Therefore, we do things we would normally do with purpose. For example, Sarah and the boys go for walks around our neighborhood. Instead of putting their heads down and going about their business at hand, they keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to engage with neighbors. When I walk to the mailbox I tend to linger for a while to see a few people.
Summertime is a great time to get to know your neighbors and begin a relationship with them. One of the things we love to do is throw a party on July 4th. We typically pass out invitations to our neighbors a few days before. On July 4th, we pull the grill around to the front, pop a canopy for shade, fill up the ice chests, set out a few games for the kids and have a great time.
Kris: Thank you so much for sharing with us!
What about you? What can you do to engage with your neighbors this summer?
Kris Eldridge | Mission Pastor
770.641.5649 | email