Three Steps to Loving Your Neighbor in “Such a Time as This”
Dear North Wake Faith Family,
At the beginning of 2020, the elders set an annual priority for our church of engaging our community with compassion and hospitality, taking the risk to speak to them of Christ. Of course, we could have never imagined that we would find ourselves facing an unprecedented pandemic just a few months later. Yet God has certainly not been caught unaware. In His providence, we recognize that there is an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill our mission and uphold our annual focus in these strange times, even as things potentially worsen over the next few weeks.
We want to offer you three familiar steps you can take to engage your own circles of influence with compassion and hospitality, even as our normal rhythms of life are severely disrupted.
This is a season where it will be essential to draw near to Christ, cast our burdens upon Him, and bring the needs of our community to the throne of grace, with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16). Here’s a few suggestions to help you pray for your neighbors and community:
Use this time to draw near to God and reinvigorate your own prayer life. Feed upon Scripture as much or more than you consume your newsfeeds. The Gospel of Mark and the Psalms would be excellent places to begin if you need a starting place.
Prayer walk your neighborhood. You may be able to interact with some of your neighbors and build better relationships with them… even from 6+ feet apart! Even if you don’t get to chat, you can still pray for all the homes/apartments where you live. (We understand outdoor walking to be acceptable under a shelter in place order, provided you maintain distance from others.)
Join Bless Every Home where you can get daily prayer reminders for those who live near you. It’s easy to create a free account. After you do, you can link your account to our church and we can all keep track of our praying, caring, and sharing together. We feel this could be a critical tool in forming prayer habits for your neighbors, so we strongly encourage you to sign up!
As you pray for those in your circles of influence, anticipate that God will grow your affections and expand your opportunities to serve them. Here’s a few suggestions to help you care for your community:
Make sure you have contact information for your neighbors and co-workers. This is a prime time to keep in touch by phone/text/video chat. It’s important to do this now!
Are you able to pick up groceries or other supplies for those nearby who would be at higher risk traveling to the store? Offer to help and take wise sanitation precautions along the way. Feel free to distribute the PDF attachment (included at the end of this email) through your neighborhood to gather info on how you can best serve your neighbors.
North Wake FEED Ministry is coordinating an effort to prepare deliveries for the most vulnerable in our community. More information on how you can be involved is coming soon, but if you’d like to go ahead and financially support this effort, go here. (Choose “FEED” under the fund tab.)
Get on nextdoor.com or see if your neighborhood has a social media page to see what’s going on in your neighborhood.
For more ideas, the NC Baptists on Mission website has an extended list of ways you can help, and Rosaria Butterfield has an excellent article on overcoming fear and extending wise Christian hospitality during this pandemic.
This is not a time for the gospel message to be muted (as if there were ever a time for that…but it’s definitely not now!). Fear of death and disease tests our mettle, challenging us to hold fast to the truth that Christ has already taken the worst that life and death could possibly bring us. Use these days to let your roots grow down deeper into the unfailing security of God’s love, and think creatively about how you can share that rare hope with your unbelieving friends. Here’s a few suggestions on how to get started:
LISTEN. Take time to formulate poignant questions, and then listen to your neighbor/coworker/friend’s concerns, questions, doubts, and fears. Listen to the Holy Spirit as he provides open doors to speak of God’s incredible love! Gospel presentations like “The 3 Circles” are helpful “tools for your toolbelt” and can bring clarity to these kinds of conversations (even if you don’t draw any diagrams!) However, the most meaningful spiritual conversations with persons you already know will often take place over time and come from the heart. Pastor Jonathan Dodson wisely advises:
“Love is inefficient. It slows down long enough to understand people and their objections to the gospel. Love recognizes people are complex, and meets them in their need: suffering, despair, confusion, indifference, cynicism.”
OFFER PRAYER. You might say something like “I’m trying to pray more (and worry less) in the middle of all this. Can I/my family pray for you or your family in any specific way?”
Be VULNERABLE. You can share about your own struggles and fears, and how your faith makes a difference in them. This also can serve as an incredible bridge to listening and sharing your faith.
SEND THEM A LINK TO OUR SUNDAY LIVESTREAM! More and more folks are thinking about “the big questions” and looking for hope. They may be willing to watch our service in their home, even if they wouldn’t usually attend a service in our building. This is a non-threatening way to introduce them to our North Wake family and to hear about Christ.
Experts seem to think that things will get worse here before they get better. When it’s all over with, what will be said of our response to this crisis? How will the people of North Wake Church respond? This moment is not a vacation or retreat from the Great Commission. This is an incredible moment to advance our mission with wisdom and creativity.
May it be said of us that we engaged our community with compassion and hospitality, and that we took the risk to speak to them of Christ! We are here to help you do this, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help you figure out what this looks like in your specific context.
In service to you and with you,
The “Love Neighbor” Team