According to a recent survey by Lifeway Research, parents are open to their children attending church if they don't have to be the ones to take them (Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research Insights' Feb. 23 newsletter). The survey found that 76 percent of parents agreed with the statement, "If a neighbor I trusted invited my children to go to church with them, I would let my child go with them." Whereas, only 24 percent of the 1,210 adults surveyed disagreed with the statement.
This finding is somewhat regrettable as a pastor who desires families to know God and worship him together. Yet, it also carries significance for believing families to live missionally. Notice the wording, "... a neighbor I trusted". This is a call for Christians to get into their communities and know their neighbors. It's a reminder that a simple friendship and invite can go a long way in the process for children and families to come to repentance and faith in Christ.
So what can your family do to live missionally, for neighbors to trust you? Here are some ideas:
- Know the names of your neighbors and allow them to know the names of everyone in your family.
- Invite neighbors, co-workers or classmates over for coffee, dessert, dinner or all of the above. This can easily be done by making use of special occasions and holidays.
- Participate in community functions and parties in effort to know people.
- Volunteer with local organizations, get involved with schools, sports teams, clubs, etc.
- Bless your neighbors, office or class with little but special gifts like baked goods, candy, yard work, appreciation notes & cards. It's the simple thoughts that count.
Above all, "as you go" (Matthew 28) and meet people engage in spiritual conversations when appropriate. People are not opposed to talking about spiritual things. They are opposed to you doing it without earning their trust first. You must have a genuine interest and value for people. Do not be afraid to let your friendships go beyond an evangelistic witness encounter. When I look at Jesus I see that he cared very deeply for people, even to the point of weeping on occasion. He loved strangers. I have to admit, I do not share this same compassion as much as I want or should. It's a shame, and worse it's sinful. I'm guilty and need to repent. I'm going to go do that now. What about you?