This past Sunday our sermon was about how we can Leverage Summer for God’s Glory and Mission. The sermon was filled with lots of practical ideas for how we could be intentional about living on mission during the next few months. I wanted to post these and other ideas here. The encouragement for all of us is that we take intentional steps to do at least three or four of these ideas this Summer. We would also welcome a greater conversation on this, so if you have ideas feel free to post a reply to share, or post ideas on Twitter using #GospelSummer.
• Dinner Table Prayer – Use dinner time (or other meals) as a time to pray for neighbors by name. Focus on a different neighbor family each night, and pray for them as a family. Encourage the family to pray for this family throughout the day.
• Devotional prayer – Make a copy of the neighborhood list and put it with your Bible and other devotional material. Include the list as part of your prayer time each day.
• Neighborhood map – Draw a map of your neighborhood, or print one from Google Maps. Label the map with family names. Include as much information as you know about the family (IE, how many kids, kids names, ages, pets, etc.). Use the map to as a way to start getting to know names of people.
• Family discussions about the list – Begin to have family discussions about the neighbors on the list. Pick a family to discuss, and have members of your family share as much information as they know. Start a journal with this information.
• Neighborhood note cards – Write the names and addresses of families on your list on separate note cards. Draw a card each day and put it in a pocket, purse, or something else you carry with you. Pull the note card during the day as a reminder to pray for the family.
• Prayer walk (or drive) your neighborhood – Go for a walk (or a drive if you live in one of those spread out communities) with your family in your neighborhood. On the back of this sheet you will find some ideas to help you with a prayer walk or drive. Spring is a great time to prayer walk, because people are starting to get out of their homes, so you can begin to put faces with names and stop to meet a few people.
• Use Scriptures to pray for people in your neighborhood. You can have members of your family look up different verses, and pray that verse for the people on your block. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are a few verses with which you can begin.
Psalm 1:2-3 Psalm 20:7
Psalm 32:1-2 Psalm 34:8-10
Psalm 37:39-40 Psalm 112:1
Proverbs 9:9-11 Proverbs 14:26-27
Isaiah 40:28-31 Matthew 10:36-38
Matthew 11:28-30 Matthew 22:37-39
Luke 12:27-31 John 11:25-26
Acts 4:12 Romans 10:13-15
Ephesians 3:14-21 1 John 1:5-7
• Prayer bucket – Put the names and addresses of the people in your neighborhood on index cards and drop them in a bucket. Each day at a family meal, or other times where you can pray, pull a name from a bucket. Use it to think of your neighbor’s name and to pray for them.
• Make an encouragement postcard – As a family, make cards for your neighbors, letting them know you are praying for them. Try not to make it overly religious, rather, focus on something fun, and include the fact that you are praying for their family. You might even include an e-mail address that they could use if they had specific requests – something like, “If you have anything specific you would like us to pray for, e-mail that request to _____________.” Hand deliver these, mail them, or put them on people’s door handle with a little bit of candy.
• Create a prayer magnet – Make small business card sized magnets to give to neighbors. The magnet can say something like, “If you need prayer, call (your name and phone #)
Ideas for Building Relationships & Serving
• Take walks with a purpose – Last month we encouraged you to prayer walk. Keep using walks as a way to get out in the neighborhood. Add an element of service, relationship to these walks. Here are a few ideas:
★ Take a trash bag and clean trash in your neighborhood
★ Grab a few dog biscuits and give them to neighbors with pets
★ Take a few bottled waters and give them to people who are working in their yards or on walks themselves
• Be a nosey neighbor – Take note of times when neighbors are doing projects around their home. They are almost always willing to talk about their fabulous work. When you see people working, ask them what they are doing.
• Make your house “the place to be” for your kids and their friends – Make your house a fun place for kids and then encourage your kids to invite neighbors and friends to your house. Kids get bored, so having a place to hang out for a few hours is often exciting. And this can give parents a chance to know kids and even parents.
• Find and frequent the neighborhood hangout – In most neighborhoods, there is a place where kids and parents tend to congregate. It might be a park, or the cool kid’s home at the end of the block. Figure out where that place is, and stop by in the evenings when everyone is there.
• Host barbecues with a purpose – One of our people shared a plan to have their Community Group over for a barbecue, but each person in the group is also encouraged to invite someone from our town or neighborhood to join them, with the goal of letting these people know about future meetings for the group. Or you may just choose to invite un-churched neighbors to the backyard for burgers and drinks.
• Create dog walking relationships – If you are pet owner, find other pet owners in your neighborhood and create times to walk dogs together. Get to know these people on your walks and begin sharing Jesus with them.
• Do life in your front yard – Fifty years ago, houses were built with front porches. This allowed people to sit on the porch and interact with neighbors. Now they are built with decks on back, which allows people to be outside without having to see anyone. Choose to hang out with your family in your front yard from time to time. Sit out lawn chairs, play catch, do family games… Then greet people as they are on their walks or are working in their yards.
• Provide a lemonade or water stand – Now, don’t put the little girl down the street out of business. But Spring and Summer are times for people doing walks. Make a pitcher of lemonade or some other refreshing drink and make it available for people who are out and about.
• Do a canned food drive or some other collection – A project like this is a great, non-threatening way to go to every home in your neighborhood. Drop by each house, introduce yourself and your family, and listen as they reply. As you collect cans, find out about their family. Do they have kids? What ages? What do they do for a living? After you have collected the cans at each house, write down a few notes about each family. Use this to start a notebook about the families in your neighborhood. This will help you with prayers for the family, and might give ideas for future ways to develop relationships.
• Find out when kids in the neighborhood have activities and go (sports games, dance, music, school program). There is not much that can build a relationship quicker than to have a neighbor hang out at a kid’s game.
• Family Scavenger Hunt – create a family game where they either need to go to the different homes in the neighborhood and get to know names, find out interesting information, collect stuff like a scavenger hunt, etc. You can make a list of fun things, or try something like a canned food scavenger hunt.
• Prepare something to give to your neighbors – Bake cookies, create a bag of household needs, deliver 9v batteries for smoke detectors, provide bags of garden food, give a flower to plant, etc…
• Do a drive for a known organization – Organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the Red Cross look for neighborhood fund raising coordinators who will contact other neighbors about giving. Being a neighborhood coordinator can give you a non-threatening avenue to meet people living around you. Contact the local chapters of these organizations to find more info.
• Initiate a community safe program – Create a sheet of paper with safety tips, and maybe a magnet with emergency phone numbers. You can contact the Eureka Fire and Police Departments to get ideas.
Ideas for Sharing the Gospel
• Host a Genesis Kids Club – Of course you can help us out in a different neighborhood, but maybe you should host one in your back yard. We can help.
• Work on and tell your faith story – Invite people for a cup of coffee or lunch and share the story of how you became a follower of Jesus.
• Choose the company for your nights out intentionally – One of our people shared that she and her husband have been re-thinking who they go out with on weekends. In the past they would join a group of Christian friends at a restaurant. But they are now choosing to invite people they know who do not have a relationship with and choosing to go out with them, using the evening to talk faith, life, and purpose.
• Invest and invite – this is the most simple strategy for many of us to share Jesus. Spend time developing relationships, invite people to meals, and invite them to church. Be sure to tell them you will meet them in the parking lot and make the experience at church safe and comfortable. You might be surprised to find out how many will take you up on the offer.