“Those who can’t do, teach.” I’m sure you have heard that saying some place before. The saying alludes to this idea that people who are not able to succeed in a given field can revert to teaching in that field. Well, I have not hidden the fact that I am the pastor of a church called The Crossings. We are a church in the middle of stereotypical suburbia. Every word I speak in the pulpit or over coffee is placed within the suburban context. God has called me – and so many others, I believe – to be a missionary in this suburban sprawl called Katy, Tx.
There has been one very small thing that we have done which has produced more encouraging moments than anything else over our five years of residence in this neighborhood. It really is ridiculously stupid to admit this is a “new” engagement for us. But, we fall into the same traps that everyone else does here in suburbia – we get too busy. It really is true that we find ourselves too busy managing church to talk to our neighbors about Jesus. How asinine is that? I’m ashamed to admit it… but I’m committed to being honest with my journey.
Here it is… we have started spending time outside. Yup, it is that simple. We realized after living in our current home for five years that we really did not truly know a single neighbor. Sure, we waved and recognized some faces on the way to the mailbox. But, the fact remains, we were not in the habit of having life-on-life conversations with the community in which God had placed us. So what did we do?
As a family we began to sit outside and let the kids play. We sit on the front porch and play with our children and our puppy. At times we allow the kids to eat their evening meal outside and then spend a few minutes playing. We look for every opportunity to just be there – visible. I don’t have any mind-blowing stories of how we have seen Jesus heal demonized home owners. What has happened is we have begun to see the same people repeatedly while meeting others for the first time. The conversations between us and our neighbors has multiplied exponentially. It has been amazing how God has connected the dots. We will talk to one neighbor who mentions seeing us out with the kids or throwing the retriever dummy for the dog – it seems to break walls and create some comfort. We have had some pretty deep conversations with some and just a hello to others… but it is PROGRESS!
We are praying that God continues to use these interactions as an opportunity to live as Jesus – incarnate within a community, through relationships. What would it look like for you to spend more time outside? If you have kids, sit in the driveway and let them play… If you have a dog, play with it or begin training it… How about a flowerbed? Do you have a flowerbed? Start working in your yard and looking for opportunities to engage life with those who live around you. Just take that simple little step and GO OUTSIDE!