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Ideas to engage with your neighbors
October 31st offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween in a couple weeks. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity. If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.
Don’t Just Give Out Candy
- Give out the best Candy. Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies, kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Think of the Parents. Consider having some hot apple cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.
- Be Present. Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.
- Be Encouraging. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.
- Party. If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-trick-or-treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick-or-treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee, or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids what they’ve gotten).
- Learn the Stories. If you are out trick-or-treating with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions and get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later.
- Get Creative. Think outside the box and consider ways to use your missional community’s gifts and interests to bless your neighbors. A few missional communities in our church have photographers and artists so they decided to set up photobooths in their garage. They took photos of families and friends who were trick-or-treating together and collected names and email addresses to send them the photos later. People had a blast and now they have ways to reach out to their neighbors again in the future.
Go to Their Place
- Attend the Party. If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.
- Join the Community. If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc. We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.
- Head to the “Watering Holes”. If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the trick-or-treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants, or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.
Be Led by the Spirit
- Pay Attention. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.
- Stay Dependent. Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care, and serve those around you.
- Open Doors. Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations.
Jeff Vanderstelt, author
Jeff is a pastor, speaker, author, founder and visionary leader of Saturate and the Soma Family of Churches. He serves as a teaching pastor and director of missional communities at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Washington. Additionally, Jeff supports church planting globally through training and as a member of the advisory board of C2C Network.