Missional In My Neighborhood
- Eric Hogue Radio Talk Host and Syndicated Columnist
- 2007 15 May
A determined caller asked, "What can I do to be missional in my neighborhood?"
I love questions that seek to create opportunities to share the simple 'love' of Jesus. So I offered a quick list of suburbia ideas for the caller to consider for her 'neck of the Northern California suburbia woods'
I've always felt awkward when I'm resting at a stop light, trying not to look at the homeless panhandler (Icon of God) out my driver's side window. I know, I know..."they do this as a scam to make easy money off of guilt ridden passers-by." I don't care. I want to meet a need, and I want to do it cheerfully and loving.
Whenever I go to McDonald's or any fast food location of your appetite's choice, I buy multiple $5 gift cards.
Last week I purchased $25 worth and placed the cards above my car's visor. Now, whenever I see someone asking for 'some help', I quickly pull one of the cards out from the visor and tell them to go get a warm lunch on me.
If the light is longer than normal, it creates a conversation.
I now pray for "Jimmy" on a daily basis, and I look for him each Wednesday afternoon during my drive into the radio station. We've struck up a dialog each time I've handed him the card. He's confounded at the 'love in forethought' that goes into buying the cards. Last week a small break through...he told me to keep praying for him as I drove away.
In my neighborhood, buying a new car is suburbia identity. Rather than attacking the purchase with a judgmental attitude, I'm determined to join the temporal excitement. Recently a neighbor came home with a new BMW. He was washing it in the drive, and showing it off to all the fellow gawkers on our street.
I had to journey out to the store and picked up a few items, I added some car wash detergent, a sponge and a bucket. I went down the street and dropped it off as a 'car warming gift' for him and his family (really, just him, it's "his" car).
As we stood and talked, his interest moved from his new car to me; "Why would you think of such a thing as this?" He was drawn to the special attention and the effort to meet him at his celebration. After our conversation, all I could tell myself was, "there is more to this relationship, stay tuned."
Another popular suburbia event involves kids and sports. My girls are older now, both in their teenage years. They are interested in education, music and college choices on the horizon. Sports are played, but they are a secondary event in their lives at this time.
We have many younger kids around the neighborhood. Why not make a contact with one of the parents, strike up a conversation about "Bobby's" little league team and find out the next game location and time?
Have your older kids prepare signs and streamers for "Bobby" and his team. Travel to the game and cheer for "Bobby" as if he was one of your own. It makes for a great afternoon, and a great BBQ after the game.
Finally, be a neighborhood party goer.
Recently Tammy and I were invited to a Tequila laced 'Cinco de Mayo', we joyfully went. The house was jammed with kids, relatives and neighborhood party goers. The boxing match was on TV, and the men watched Mayweather defeat De La Hoya in a TKO.
During the party's evening cascade, Tammy and I were approached by a neighbor who was more than curious about language. She noticed that we mentioned words like "blessed", and "God love ya" - my wife's favorite retort when someone makes an blunder. She has heard my talk show, and was so excited about asking if we were Christians.
We responded with a grace-filled "yes". She proceeded to tell us of a trip to Costa Mesa in the early 90's, where she heard Greg Laurie speak at Calvary Chapel. She shared a decision she made on that day, one that has forever changed her life.
Here in the middle of the party, she was sharing her desire to know Jesus more, "I know there is more", and she is determined to go deeper. We were blessed because we attended a rowdy party, engaged the fun and enjoyed the people.
I'm encouraged, knowing that Jesus met hundreds at parties, and he desires a party for all of us.
As I told the caller, just look around and be creative - not religious or self-righteous. Meet a need, join a temporal celebration and attend the party...watch what Abba does with His love on the scene, because true love still impacts people in Graceland.