In last week’s blog, we outlined how to see our neighbors with fresh eyes. In continuing our theme of neighboring, this week we will be exploring how to reach out to our neighbors with a fresh perspective.  

When you think of a fresh perspective, what comes to mind?  The very definition of perspective is a particular viewpoint, outlook, position, standpoint, lens, stance, approach, or frame of reference.  Therefore, when it comes to freshening our perspective, we could perhaps look at an opportunity to refresh, revive, or strengthen our frame of reference or approach to neighboring.

How does one go about gaining a fresh perspective?  Just like we suggested when seeing with new eyes, we must first be open to the idea and approach it with a sense of curiosity and without judgment or preconceived notions.  

Next, let’s define neighboring in relation to this content.  Neighboring is being present in your neighborhood with intentional steps toward building relationships with your neighbors for the overall good.  For the church and its disciples, it is building relationships with neighbors so that you might have the opportunity to eventually share your faith.

Now that we are all working from common definitions, here are three tips for reaching out to neighbors with a fresh perspective:

Tip One

Make no assumptions.  We sometimes think we know what our neighbors need or where the gaps are in the community.  However, often our ideas are based on outdated information,  information not connected to our direct neighborhood, or simply based on our assumptions.  Additionally, too often the way we think of reaching out to our neighbors ends up being only transactional – providing a product or service only.  Reaching out is not just about providing products,  serving neighbors, or serving with neighbors.  It must also include building relationships.

Tip Two

Think relationships over programs.  Churches spent a considerable amount of time planning ministries and investing a great deal of time and energy into the details of pulling off a great event along with recruiting volunteers for specific jobs.  Yet, oftentimes we forget to be intentional about the relational aspect of the ministry.  Begin with the question of how will we best build relationships with our neighbors?  Then, plan the ministry around that relationship-building intentionality.  For existing ministries, evaluate relationship-building effectiveness and opportunities with new people throughout this ministry. Make any modifications needed to place a fresh perspective on relationships with new people.

Tip Three

Consider handoffs and what’s next.  Churches can have some incredible events, programs, and ministries that may indeed have a fresh, neighborly perspective. But, they miss the next step.  All the energy and focus is placed on that one event or program leaving nothing for what’s next.   For example, a church may have a well-attended community fall festival in their church parking lot and collect names when people register for a door prize.  Yet, nothing is ever done with those names.  No follow up.  No next event.  No invitation to what follows.  No handoff to another activity or event.  It’s like you had a blind date with someone you kinda liked, you gave them your number, and they never called you back for a second date!  In this example, consider who is your likely attender at the fall festival and what would be a likely next step for them.  Have that planned and ready to advertise before the fall festival commences so you can begin follow up immediately following the fall festival.

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: 

Love others as you love yourself.  Galatians 5:14 MSG

We sometimes make neighboring more difficult and complicated than it needs to be.  It really is about authentically desiring to know, serve, and love our neighbors.  If our primary focus is on our neighbors first, it’s not difficult! And, if we keep relationship intentionality as our focus, we will be much more likely to build those authentic relationships with our neighbors as Jesus intended us to do.  Click here to receive a free step-by-step guide on planning community bridge events to build new neighborhood relationships.