What do you see in your neighborhood?
Dr. Bob Lowman, Executive Director, MBA
“If you see something, say something.” That is a slogan of the Department of Homeland Security to help us identify any situation or threat to our neighborhoods, communities, and nation. I went to the website to see what that government department is saying about watching your neighborhood. One of the questions an article there asks is “How observant are you?” Good question!
Since part of the Greatest Command is to love our neighbors as ourselves, we need to be aware of our neighbors and alert to see what is going on with them so that we can love as the Lord commands. So, how observant are you of your neighborhood? Do you know your neighbors’ names? Are their children in the homes around yours? Single moms? Single dads? Elderly widows or widowers who rarely have a visitor? What do you see in your neighborhood?
Some neighborhoods are apartment complexes that have hundreds of residents. Others are gated communities with hundreds of homes in them. Some are older neighborhoods around the city that are transitioned or transitioning from one demographic to another.
When we do demographic studies for our churches, we use the church facility address as the center of a circle, and using our online resources pull up all the data on the people who live inside that circle. We then identify those people as the mission field of that church. However, the problem with that approach is that usually none of us live at the address where our church is located. We live in neighborhoods with other individuals and families. Where we live determines where our neighborhood is, and likewise, where our mission field is. The people who live near you are a primary part of your mission field as a follower of Jesus.
This week in Nashville, Tennessee, as tornadoes tore through that city, killing people and destroying homes and businesses, neighbors started to connect in ways that they may not have connected before. Let a dramatic need arise, and we tend to rally together to meet that need.
I see something, so I need to say something: we have hundreds of thousands of neighbors in Mecklenburg County who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord. And, while we have not had a disaster strike our city, we have a spiritual need here that is far more significant from God’s perspective than a weather event.
We as Christians are responsible for those around us, especially for the spiritual condition of those around us. And while we cannot and would not force anyone to believe, it is our task to share the story of the One we believe in, Jesus Christ, and to pray for those around us who need to know the Lord. So, what do you see in your neighborhood now? What will you be watching for in the days ahead? And, on a Sunday afternoon soon, what might happen if you walked around your community and offered to pray for the felt needs of the neighbors you meet? Studies show us that people will most often tell you something you can pray for on their behalf, even if they are not Christians themselves. Maybe that is the opportunity God will give us to see the needs in our neighborhoods and respond with the love of Jesus in word and action.