10 Ways to Intentionally Engage Your Neighborhood … Near and Far

 

Everyday Laboring Tips | Neighborhood, Community and World

Kingdom laboring doesn’t have to be laborious. More than anything, Kingdom laboring is loving others out of the up-close love relationship you have with God. It doesn’t require a theological degree, insist on a minimum age, or demand a certain level of spiritual maturity. Kingdom laboring is a simple call to intentionally and genuinely love others—wherever you are, whoever you’re with, with whatever measure of God’s love you have to offer in the moment.

Below are 10 ways to love your neighborhood, community and world in Kingdom-Laboring ways. In time, you might be amazed to see just how much God’s Kingdom grows in and around you seemingly “all by itself” (Mark 4:28) as you authentically and intentionally love others.

 

Here are 10 ways to Intentionally Engage your Neighborhood … Near and Far.

 

1. Do you know your neighbors?
Imagine a world where people truly loved and cared for their neighbors.  Although the world has gotten smaller, many feel more isolated and disconnected than ever before … a familiar face in this world who knows you by name makes an impact far greater than what we realize.  So, start small, learn your neighbor’s names!  If some time has passed since they (or you) moved in, try saying, “You know, it’s been way too long that you and I have been neighbors without knowing one another!  I’d love to be a better neighbor to you and your family.”  Then, see where the relationship takes you, you might just be surprised what Kingdom connections come about.

 

2. Show up to the opportunities you’re invited to.
Instead of feeling uncertain about where mission opportunities to labor around us exist, what if we actually showed up to the spaces we are invited to? It’s not everyday someone hosts a celebration or special gathering, but when they do, it’s likely an important milestone.  Showing up and being present truly matters!  What might God be about if we saw these invitations as Kingdom opportunity, instead of “have to” obligations?

 

3. Get curious about a current issue in the world or your community!
We hear, see, and catch wind of things every day that have complexity far beyond what we know. What current issue or event has caught your attention?  Expand your understanding by putting some time into a well-rounded exploration of the issue … not to arm yourself with debate ammunition, but to be a more well-informed participant.  You might just learn something new that inspires a Kingdom opportunity or prayer assignment.

 

4. Practice growing your empathy.
Empathy is a deep consideration of what it must be like in someone else’s shoes. When we imagine someone’s experience as if it were our own, seeing how they might see, thinking what might go through their mind, feeling what might be present in their heart, we realize we have immensely more in common than we do apart.  Are there people you naturally resist or don’t understand, so much so that you would struggle extending love or sharing the gospel?  Practice growing in empathy and see if a seed of love might take new root in your heart.  To live the message of the gospel, you actually have to love people (John 13:35)!

 

5. Use your voice to speak hope, possibility, and redemption.
We’ve all likely been there—sucked into a conversation that snowballs into negativity, doom, and gloom about our city, nation, or world. Yet, Jesus gave us plenty of public service announcements in the gospels—to labor in this world takes a great deal of faith and hope (John 16:33).  We carry the banner that reminds people that not all is lost, in fact, God has defeated death and is relentlessly working to make all things new.  It might take some courage, but what if the next time we found ourselves in the middle of a conversation current full of doom and gloom, we used our voice to instill faith, hope, and the scandalous possibility of redemption.  More people might just be empowered to act in faith, opposed to being paralyzed in fear and anxiety.  We have access to the most grounded hope that exists (Romans 15:13), why not share it and change the conversation?

 

6. Adopt a space you frequent on a weekly basis.
In a world that is fast paced and often in a hurry, an individual who is willing to slow down, pay attention, lend a hand, or learn a name has immense opportunity to generate a caring surprise in someone’s day. Why not try it?  We’ve all got our neighborhood favorites—the corner grocery, that favorite bike path, breakfast traditions, or the ice cream place that stays open late.  Adopt one of these spaces as a place you and God can be on mission together every time you go.  Let His creativity unfold as He nudges your heart to bring Jesus up-close to those you interact with.

 

7. Be open. Be generous.
Laboring in this world will take our time, energy, resources, talent, and more. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He told us following Him would cost us everything (Luke 14: 25–34).  However, recall the last time you engaged an opportunity Jesus spontaneously placed in your path.  How did you feel afterward?  The joy experienced from walking with God, letting Him guide and direct our lives, is usually incomparable to most other things.  Do you have margin in your life to spend time ministering to a friend, or volunteering your energy to meet an urgent need?  What about an opportunity to financially or prayerfully enable other Kingdom Laborers to reach places you cannot?  Ask God to help you be more open with your time and resources, and give you a specific way to practice it.

 

8. Cross the divide and intentionally engage with others different than you.
It’s hard to hate when you’re up-close.  “Those people,” “that side of the city,” “the church on that corner” … realities that divide us are apparent through our language, through the structure of our cities, the denominations on the signs of our churches, news outlets, and so much more.  Have you ever showed up in a place where someone of “your kind” usually doesn’t go?  What was it like?  No doubt a little uncomfortable.  However, a bridge built moves God’s heart and Kingdom forward in ways that walls and boundary lines never will.  We were once foreigners and strangers to God’s family, but have been graciously called home and adopted by a God who pursued us (Ephesians 2:17–22).  The ministry Jesus modeled for us crosses divides, climbs walls, and overcomes barriers to call people home to His big, beautiful, and diverse family … our family.  Let’s go to more places Jesus’ feet would go.

 

9. Get involved and connected!
You fill in the blank, “If I had the time, I’d really like to get involved _________________.” Why not find some time?  Take the first step and get connected—research a nonprofit, a volunteer opportunity, the possibilities at your church, or an organization that facilitates mission opportunities.  From one hour a week or one day a month, you’re likely to find a space that looks like you to get involved!  “But what do I have to offer?” you might contest.  YOURSELF—with Jesus alive in and through you.  The desire on your heart to get involved is likely a unique, God-designed, space for you and He to spread His love.  Think about what’s holding you back and talk it through with Jesus.  Ask Him for the next step, and take it!

 

10. Pray!
As you wake up, while you make your morning coffee, or drive your work commute, make a daily habit of asking God to shape you into a loving laborer, opening your eyes to opportunities to love well. In your own words, try a prayer like this—“Father, I want to love this world you’ve created like you do.  Open my eyes, mold your love and compassion more deeply within my heart, and give me the faith and courage to act.  I want to spread your love to the people you’ve placed around me today.  Show me how.”

 

Lisa Zimmerman

Content Team & Prayer Team Coordinator

Lisa is passionate about people knowing and believing in the God who works in “immeasurably more than imaginable” ways. A midwest girl who currently lives in Denver with her husband, she loves to see the beauty of God's Kingdom revealed in the everyday places of life.

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