Won't You Be My Neighbor?

December 7, 2022 | Rob Bloss

I’ve moved a lot. Sometimes the move took me just across town, and other times it was to a completely different part of the country, like when we moved here 10 months ago. I did a quick count and I’ve lived in at least 25 different places, with the longest stay being a mere 7 years! You might say I’m a bit of an expert at being and getting to know new neighbors.

I don’t know if you’re one of the many who have made your way to the Murfreesboro area in recent years, or if you’re living on the same piece of ground that’s been in your family for generations. Either way, research shows that fewer and fewer people really know their neighbors these days compared to past decades. 

I was 12 when my dad passed away. Before that, we lived on Jefferson Street, a street where my parents were incredibly close to two of the couples living across the street. My siblings and I had lots of kids our ages to play with late into the night: Justin, Kevin, Chris, Matt, and Joe to name a few.

As an adult, knowing my neighbors was easier when I had kids at home or a dog to walk, but it’s always been a challenge given the pace of life, both mine and my neighbors. Now it’s often just a nod, a wave, or a howdy neighbor. I want and need to fix that.

Love Your Neighbor is a church-wide initiative we started on the first week of Advent. As a part of that initiative, we encouraged you to list some NEW neighbors you would pray for and relationally pursue. This initiative is so obviously rooted in the very essence of what it is to be a Christian: to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything hangs on these two commands. They are intertwined and woven into the fabric of the meaning and message of the gospel.

The holidays are typically busy, but they are also filled with opportunities to give away what we have received in Christ—LOVE. I know we may have a lot going on, but I know of few things more important than investing in people.

Here are some practical ideas to really get to know and be known by those in our immediate spheres of influence:

  • Everyone Loves Cookies. Make (or buy!) a batch of cookies one night rather than watching your favorite program. Then the next evening or morning, grab that plate of cookies, and take them to the neighbor across the street or down the block. 
  • Deliver a Christmas card. Many homes on your street won’t receive cards or callers this Christmas. Brighten their day with a heartfelt message delivered face-to-face. 
  • Make Christmas bright. Help a neighbor hang their lights. Or if you have a prominent tree in the neighborhood, pass out invitations to decorate it and have a tree lighting event with hot cocoa and carols. 
  • Ask for advice. Not sure where to go to shop for unique holiday gifts, for the perfect slice of pizza, or to tackle a home project? Your neighbor might know. Even if they don’t, it’s a good opportunity to introduce yourself and spark a conversation. 
  • Help a neighbor in need. There is someone in your neighborhood who needs a little extra help this season with their shopping or shipping, decorating or cooking, pet care or childcare, or watching their home while they travel for the holidays. 
  • Host a Christmas Open House. Invite several families to your home for carols, hors’ devours, or sweet treats. 
  • Start a book club or walking group in your neighborhood.  
  • Attend neighborhood meetings or gatherings.
  • Go outside…to the clubhouse, pool, dog park, bus stop…and look for opportunities to introduce yourself. 

It’s all about building relationships. This takes time and intentionality. It’s not a box to check or an assignment to complete; it’s the life we live until we are called heavenward, or until Christ returns. I would love to hear what has worked for you or what you are planning to do as you seek to love your neighbor well.