SENT is part of a new weekly series telling stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently you hosted a neighborhood 4th of July party, tell us about it!
Where did the idea for the BBQ start? Are there other neighborhood gatherings throughout the year?
A few years ago, we heard of someone passing out the “BIG” candy bars for Halloween and taking the opportunity to make their house fun and inviting. We decided to do the same thing, but added coffee, hot cocoa, chili dogs, nachos, etc. We invited neighbors to join us and soon this became an event people looked forward to every year. There was nothing scary about our house, just fun! It was the perfect opportunity to open doors for relationships, as it is the one time of year people are willingly to knock on your door.
As a result, we decided to begin to open our home even more. We invited those in our neighborhood over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and birthday celebrations. As we have sensed God’s call to be more involved in our community, we decided to invite about 30 homes from our neighborhood over for the 4th of July. There was a bounce house, cotton candy machine, and a decorated bike/scooter parade for the kids! We had at least 70 people show-up, it was a BLAST!
Sometimes the simplest thing you can do, is invite others over.
What was a favorite memory from this year?
People notice. It’s easy to wonder if anything we are doing is truly making a difference; but God encouraged our hearts in a big way this past year. There is a 17-year-old neighbor living next-door to us, with whom we have had multiple conversations about the gospel message and life. His mom was opening a dance studio and asked us to come see the location and while we were there the young man approached us.
He said, “Is one of the rules of your religion to love?” We replied, “We choose to love because of the love Christ has for us. Why do you ask?” He said, “Because you do it really well!”
Here is a teenage boy observing how we interact with his family and how we invest in their lives. We do not have all the answers, we do not push the gospel down their throat and make every conversation about Jesus, Church, and Being Saved; we simply show love as this is the greatest apologetic.
We don’t always get to see the impact we may have on someone’s life, but when we are living as Christ called us to live and loving others as ourselves, that is NEVER wasted.
What was something you personally have seen or learned as you have stepped out into loving your neighbors?
People are longing for community, but rarely is someone willing to step-out of their comfort zone and approach their neighbors. As we passed out flyers for our 4th of July barbeque, we heard the repeated comment, “Thank you for doing this, we wish our neighborhood did more” or “We really would like to connect with others.” People were gracious and thankful for the time to meet their neighbors. An interesting note was that there were at least four families who had moved into the neighborhood within the prior month and were looking for a way to connect. God’s timing is always perfect!
People want community, they need community, they just do not know how to create community.
Any advice you would give to others who are looking to neighbor well?
You are a missionary! The call you have been given, as a follower of Jesus Christ, is to love those within your area of influence. It can be scary to take that first step—ask God for the courage
to do one thing and see where that leads. Love is the greatest apologetic to reaching the lost, but you must take a step-of-faith and knock on one door, two, etc. Follow these words of Paul:
“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Cor. 3:5-7, NASB).
Realize, that you cannot change anyone’s life, only God can. However, it is your call to plant and/or water. God will use you, but you must trust Him and take a step towards your neighbor. Understand that evangelism, discipleship, and being a missionary is first about your obedience to Christ. Your call to be a missionary in your community is no different than anyone who is called to go overseas. As a matter-of-fact, many reports have come out saying America is one of the greatest mission fields.
You know your neighborhood, you know your community, and you know Colorado Springs! So put on a Jesus smile, knock on a door, reach out to a co-worker, or open your home to a family from your kid’s school or sports team and let God do the work. You’re ready!
James and Beth are on staff with the Navigators. They lead a small group at Pulpit Rock and James volunteers with one of our missions strategic teams.