As I examine myself (2 Corinthians 13:5), I can’t help but see many areas where I need improvement [when it comes to trying to interest my neighbors in the Gospel]. I need to be building relationships with my neighbors like Jesus would build relationships with His neighbors. Here are some suggestions if you feel the same way:
- Actually meet your neighbors. You know, what’s-his-name: the person who lives in the same apartment complex as you, the new coworker who sits in the corner of the office, the barista you order coffee from every morning, or the person next door to you. Nothing will happen unless you make it happen.
- Stop thinking about yourself. I think sometimes we become so concerned about our own image that, after we think we’ve made a good impression with our neighbors, we cut off the relationship. Stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about your neighbor. Remember, he/she has a soul that needs to be saved. If they are going to be receptive to the Gospel, they first need to know that you care about them.
- Be intentional. Always keep the big picture in your mind — it’s you, your neighbor, and eternity. Don’t lose sight of your mission: to bring souls to Christ (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20). Behind every interaction should be the intention of leading someone closer to Jesus.
- Write things down. This is a good idea to apply to anyone with whom you want to grow closer (friends, family members, church members). Take notes about names, birthdays, relations, occupations, preferences, and hobbies. Occasionally, look over your notes about people to refresh your memory about them.
- Keep things moving. Your relationship with your neighbor will grow cold if your interaction with him/her becomes stagnant. Don’t let that happen. Leave cookies or bread on their porch. Walk over and say “hi” if they are in a position to talk. If you have small children, ask them to make a card for your neighbor and then send them to deliver their work.
- Be eager to serve. Look for ways to help your neighbor. This is sometimes difficult, because it makes us vulnerable. If they’re going out of town, offer to take out their trash, pick up their mail, or even mow their grass. If they have kids, offer to be their baby-sitter. If they need anything, like a bag of flour or a whatchamacallit from your garage, bring it to them. In fact, pray to God asking for opportunities like these to arise.
- Be the kind of neighbor you would want. Christians make the best neighbors. They’re trustworthy, dependable, considerate, and kind. Make sure you are a faithful and diligent child of God. If you are, your neighbors will see your lifestyle and naturally be drawn to you. Make sure you are “a letter from Christ,” “known and read by all” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).