Many of us are familiar with North Carolina’s “Adopt-A-Highway” program, in which people volunteer to regularly pick up litter on a particular stretch of highway. Basically, these volunteers agree to take ownership of their assigned stretch of highway. Now, what would happen if each of us took ownership of our neighborhoods and/or streets for the sake of the Gospel? As believers, one of the best mission fields that we have is our neighborhoods/streets. God has placed each one of us in a particular place so that we can proclaim his glory to those around us. Few of us take this task as serious as we should; this is to our shame. Therefore, I would like to challenge you to Adopt-Your-Neighborhood (street, if you do not live in a subdivision). In what follows, I offer some practical suggestions on how to take ownership of your neighborhood for the Gospel.
1. Pray for your neighbors. Do you consistently pray for the salvation of your neighbors? for opportunities to share Christ with them? for opportunities to serve them?
2. Pick up Trash in Your Neighborhood. This is what the Adopt-A-Highway program is all about. Take your family on a walk through your neighborhood and pick up the trash on the side of the road. When you do it on a regular basis, your neighbors will notice your service.
3. Get to Know Your Neighbors. Don’t be a recluse. Get out of your house and walk around your neighborhood. Have some neighbors over for dinner or a cookout. Think of practical ways to get to know your neighbors.
4. Serve Your Neighbors. If you have neighbors who are working on a project, ask them if they need some help. If you know that your neighbor is sick or injured, think of practical ways that your family can serve that neighbor.
5. Bake for Your Neighbors. Holidays are a great opportunity for you to bake for your neighbors. Around Christmas time, bake some Christmas goodies and deliver them to all your neighbors.
6. Keep Your Neighborhood Looking Nice. Our neighborhood has a couple of foreclosures and inevitably, the grass around these houses gets pretty tall during the summer months. Why not take about three Saturdays over the summer and just keep the grass in these yards at a manageable level? Sure it requires time and money, but I guarantee you that the neighbors around those houses will want to know why you care enough to mow the grass of a foreclosed house. Another good idea is to trim the hedges around your neighborhood sign (if someone else does not already do this).
7. Look for Needs. Simply put, every neighborhood/street is different. As you go about life, keep your eyes open to needs that people may have in your neighborhood. Then, show the extravagant love of Christ and try to meet those needs.
8. Share the Gospel with Your Neighbors. This is where our service pays off. If you are a person who has demonstrated the sacrificial love of Christ to your neighbors on a regular basis, they will probably be much more willing to listen to your proclamation of the Gospel. As we adopt our neighborhoods, we are demonstrating the sacrificial love of Christ to those around us. Trust me…they will notice. Most people in our culture are so self-absorbed that they would never take the time to do many of the things I have suggested in this post.
In the end, we all have a responsibility to find creative ways to reach our neighbors with the life-changing message of Christ. How much have you done for your neighbors in the last six months? How much have prayed for them? How much have you thought about ways to reach them? Do you really care for your neighbors or are you content to be like most Americans and live in your self-absorbed world? If you were offered a million dollars, I am sure you could come up with an endless list of creative ideas for reaching your neighborhood. It is sad that money motivates us more than the glory of God. May God help us as we seek to adopt our neighborhoods for Christ! Do you have any other ideas? If so, please leave feedback so we can learn from one another.