Most believers will never share the gospel with anyone, and many will never even invite anyone to church. Sometimes, in fact, we overstate the hard work of evangelism, and our folks never even try to reach anyone. Here are some simple ways to start correcting this problem by reaching your neighbors:
- Learn their names. I know that sounds silly, but we will never reach people whose names we don’t even know. Particularly in North American culture, we often don’t know the people who live next to us.
- Pray intentionally for their salvation, at least weekly. Ask God to help you connect with them and to grant you opportunities to tell them your story of faith. Ask for courage to speak when the opportunity is there.
- Do a prayer survey with them. By that I mean, ask your neighbors how you might pray for them. My experience is that people often carry heavy burdens behind closed doors, and they welcome prayer support.
- Invite them to cookout in your yard. For some reason, people seem to be more open to spending time in a yard than they are in entering a house for a meal. Take advantage of that opportunity.
- Invite their kids to children’s events at your church. Your ultimate goal should be to reach the entire family, but children often become the open door to speaking to others. Welcome neighbor kids into your life.
- Do acts of kindness for your neighbors. Cut their grass. Rake the leaves. Shovel the snow. Take out their garbage. Clean their windows. They’ll often ask why you do what you do—which then opens the door to talking with them about spiritual matters.
- Offer small gifts to them at Christmastime, and include the Christmas story. Only God knows what He might do through an inexpensive gift that includes a gospel tract. The gift opens the heart, and the tract drives the gospel in.
- Start a book reading club or a walking/running club. Build on your passions, and work to find others in your community who share that passion. Even if only a few join in, those few may still need to know about Jesus. Build relationships that can lead to evangelism.
- Grow a garden, and give away much of your crop. Fresh vegetables can open a door to conversation, so plan your garden accordingly.
- Make sure you know the gospel well. Talk with your pastor if you’re not sure what to say. You will want to get it right when God opens another heart to listen to you.
What ideas have you seen work? How well do you know your neighbors?
Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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