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Making time to minister to our neighbors may be the most impactful thing we can do. Together let’s take Christ’s words seriously and love our actual neighbors as an overflow of our love for God.being good neighbors

Wanting to be Good Neighbors

When my husband and I were looking for our first house a few years ago I began to pray for the neighbors God would surround us with. I prayed that the house we bought would meet our needs and that God would prepare the people around it to be ready to receive both us and the Gospel. I prayed that God would make us a faithful witness and that we would find ways to minister to the people He placed us near.

Fast forward two years and I am still very much trying to figure out what this looks like. I have prayed for my neighbors regularly, brought them gifts at Christmastime, invited them to church, visited when I knew of a tragedy or loss, and seen some great things coming from it. However, I long to be a better neighbor (see this post for some of the ideas I’m implementing). I know there is brokenness and hopelessness surrounding me and I often feel lost as to how to go outside my door and welcome those who live closest to me.

That is where The Art of Neighboring came in.

I began this small book because it was recommended by Rosaria Butterfield in her book Openness Unhindered. In a previous book she recommended Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life and it was phenomenal (check out the review here!) so I decided to take her up on the recommendation. Rosaria speaks of the ministry she and her husband have begun in their neighborhood in North Carolina after finishing The Art of Neighboring and the beautiful opportunities it has led to.

Passionate to see what further ministry the Lord would have for me in neighboring I began this book with excitement. I was not disappointed.

The theme of the book comes from the gospel of Matthew.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22: 37-39

The authors conclude that perhaps Jesus is talking here about our literal neighbors.

Though we know in a broad sense we are to love and consider everyone a neighbor Dave and Jay conclude that when we aim at everything we often hit nothing so perhaps it would be best if we made time to love the people closest to us.

This book sets up a quantifiable goal – What do you know about the people in the 8 houses closest to you? They have block maps on their website that are further explained in the book.

Dave and Jay then give concrete examples of how we can go about ministering to our neighborhoods. They focus on relationship building and opportunities to love the people we live near just as Jesus has commanded.

“We don’t love our neighbor to convert them, we love our neighbor because we are converted.” – The Art of Neighboring

The Art of Neighboring advocates that we can have normal human relationships that constantly point people to Christ. Essentially the idea is that of Luke 6:45 “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. If Christ is truly our treasure, we will speak of Him with our neighbors.

The authors argue for genuinely loving people as created image bearers of our God, serving them, praying for them, and looking for opportunities to share about Christ.

Every context will look different but there is a simple beauty in just being available.

I was convicted and encouraged through this book. That is not to say that I agreed with every point but the overall theme of the book is one that I believe to be very necessary and oft forgotten.

I made it through this book anxious to see what the Lord has for me in my neighborhood. I have prayed for my neighbors and see every opportunity to speak with them as an answer to prayer. I sincerely think this ought to be our conclusion. God has placed us in our neighborhoods for a reason.

Making time to minister to our neighbors may be the most impactful thing we can do. Together let’s take Christ’s words seriously and love our actual neighbors as an overflow of our love for God.

being good neighbors