My friend Amy Lively, from The Neighborhood Café, is guest posting today! She’s tackling an issue that so many of us struggle with – breaking out of our comfort zones to reach people in our own backyards with the Gospel. I think you’ll really love the ideas she has. And don’t forget to enter her fun giveaway! Here’s Amy…
“I can do it! I can totally do it!” Someone had spoken life into one of my dreams, and for a few weeks I believed I could do it—I could actually start a neighborhood Bible study in my home. I would lure my neighbors over with coffee and cookies, then spring the Gospel on them—they’d never know what hit ‘em! I penciled the date for an Open House on my calendar, sketched out an invitation, and made lists of silly icebreakers.
This crazy idea rattled around in my heart… but by the time it bounced all the way up to my brain, I wasn’t so confident anymore. Could my little list of “things I’d like to teach about” turn into conversations with real women sitting around my kitchen table? What if no one came? What if everyone came? And then there was the mildly troublesome fact that I didn’t know my neighbors.
I don’t have time.
I’m not spiritual enough.
My house isn’t nice enough.
People don’t want to talk about religion.
My excuses were legit. I was busy working from home at our growing business while raising a family. I regularly fought with my husband, yelled at bad drivers (I love personalized license plates so I can call people out by name), and had never gotten around to memorizing the minor Old Testament prophets. My living room, with half-chewed rawhides poking out from behind the sofa cushions, is not Pinteresting. And, some people are a little uncomfortable bringing Jesus home from church.
There was nothing in the Bible telling me how to overcome my logical excuses and rational defenses. But there weren’t any escape clauses, either—and trust me, I looked! Not a single instance of “love your neighbor” was followed by “when your calendar is clear and your house is clean.”
“Please, God,” I begged, “Can’t I go to Africa instead? That would be easier than going across the street.”
Truth is, I was scared stiff—stiffly stuck in my comfort zone, stubbornly resisting God’s nudge out my front door.
My excuses were a thin disguise for my fears: fear of sacrifice, fear of humiliation, fear of being different, fear of rejection.
God never did magically eliminate my excuses, but He did ease my fears with sound scriptural promises about loving till it hurts (Ephesians 5:2), the difference between humiliation and humility (Proverbs 29:23), being weird (1 Peter 3:14-15), and pleasing God—not girlfriends (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
On the flip side of my fear, I found God’s faithfulness. He gave me Christ’s example to follow in my own neighborhood. He promised me honor when I submitted in humility. He offered a crown when others might offer criticism. He entrusted me with the Gospel not as a weapon, but as a way of life and love.
God’s faithfulness went with me as, knees knocking, I knocked on my neighbors’ doors. He led them back to my door, these women I never would have met had I not given into this scheme. We talked and laughed. Many became my friends as we continued to gather in my home every other week.
God broke my heart for my neighbors as I realized this was never about me—it had always been about them.
God’s faithfulness multiplied each hour I dedicated to getting ready; my productivity at work and home soared. No one asked me deep theological questions like, “Do pets go to heaven?” and some days they were a little irked at their families, too. They learned not to wear black pants around our yellow dog, and no one cared that Sara Lee made the snacks. And it turns out they needed Jesus in their homes just as much as I did.
Now when fear raises its ugly head, I remember how God proved His faithfulness as I obeyed His commands and believed His promises.
And this thing I dreaded—even as I was dreaming of it—became my deepest joy.
Would you like to turn your dread into joy by starting your very own neighborhood Bible study, but aren’t sure how?
Today, I’m giving away three Neighborhood Café Kits that hold everything you’ll need to love your neighbors in a whole new way!
The kit includes a planning guide, open house invitations, leader’s guide, and more. To enter, leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to be a winner.
The first time I heard the words “neighborhood Bible study” was at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ She Speaks Conference. Each year as I’ve attended She Speaks and She Speaks Intensive, the Proverbs 31 team has stretched my personal faith and expanded my professional ministry. I have never seen so many beautiful women in one place encouraging one another without competing, generously imparting knowledge, equipping women to reach God’s daughters around the world. Read about it, pray about it—then GO TO IT! Click here for more information.