Our mission at Central has always been “Share Christ, Change Lives and Deliver Hope.” In recent years, one of the ways we have decided we are called to live out that mission is by connecting with the Neighborhood in meaningful and relational ways (when I use the word “Neighborhood” here, I mean the immediate area around the church property: between William and Eldorado on one side and Monroe and Pine on the other). Over the years, we have been intentional about inviting our neighbors to some of our all-church events (picnics, Trunk or Treat, etc…). But as a new year dawns, I would like to invite you to be part of a new 3-fold approach to building connection with our neighbors.
First, between now and Easter (March 31), I invite you to pray for our neighborhood and its neighbors. You can do this alone or with the rest of your household. You may pray the prayer that I am including (see below); or prayer your own prayer; or use my prayer as a springboard for your own creativity. But pray for our neighbors regularly. And as you do that, if any insights come to you that you would like to share, please feel free to email them to me (
). Before we think about connecting, we must begin by inviting God to be part of the process and listen for God’s guidance.
Second, every Monday, from February 5 – March 25, I will be in the Disciples Room from 5 – 6 p.m. praying for the neighborhood myself. If anyone would like to join me, please feel free to come to a Neighborhood Prayer Small Group. You can come every week or just one. And whether we have 2-3 or 10-15, I will leads three discussion rounds. Each week we will follow the same format, trusting God to bring insight and revelation to us the more we do it.
- What comes to your mind when you think about our neighborhood?
- What questions do you have for God regarding our neighborhood?
- Pray for our neighborhood.
Thirdly, as the weather warms up and we get into April and May, I hope to work with a few people who are interested in “meeting the neighbors.” Instead of telling them about who we are, the intent will be to listen while they tell us about who they are. I am envisioning some version of this conversation starter: “We are from the church across the street and want to be good neighbors in this neighborhood. From your perspective, what would be helpful for a church like us to know about what it is like to live here?”
I’ll be sharing more about this during worship this Sunday. But for now, here is a sample you can start praying as often as possible between now and Easter.
God of infinite blessing,
I come seeking your provision and protection over every home in our neighborhood. May your nearness and presence be felt by every inhabitant of the homes that encircle our church property.
You have promised us in your Holy Word that you will deliver those who love you and protect those who know your name. I pray that protection and deliverance for everyone in this neighborhood. May there be peace and security within all the areas our neighborhood encompasses.
Wherever and whenever there is anyone in distress, I pray that you would come and reveal your presence in the midst of it and your power over it. Give to every individual that inhabits this neighborhood victory over their fears, and peace amid their worries. Spread your protection over them and cover them with favor as a shield. Be with them in their comings and goings and keep them safe during all their travels.
Fill their household with your presence. Give them food to eat and a place to rest in comfort at the end of each day. Grant to each person in our neighborhood the petitions of their heart. Fill their life with answered prayers. Fulfill all their wishes – insofar as they are in keeping with your plans for them. Where their wishes are fulfilled, make it clear that it was you who provided them their joy. And where they are not fulfilled, keep them from losing faith and hope.
And grant that I – through the simple offering of this prayer – might grow closer in empathy and to those that share this neighborhood with our church. Open my eyes to see what you want me to see; teach me what you want me to learn; and reveal for me what you want me to understand about how I can be used – and our church can be used – as agents for good in this corner of the world.
I will trust that you will answer this prayer in a way I can clearly recognize. Until then, may I be guided in attentiveness by your Holy Spirit in all that I say and think and do. Amen.
Blessings – Michael