Sorry I did not post my blog yesterday morning. Some morning events and an early start to cleaning my yard up after our Halloween Party just did not me to have the hour to hour and a half it takes me to write each morning blog.
Last Tuesday night was Halloween. Our One Direction Community house church put on a Halloween gathering in our front yard for our neighborhood. We went all out on decorations in the front yard and moved our fire pit onto our driveway. We put out hot dogs, made chili, akk kinds of chips and s’mores makings, coolers of soft drinks and beer, and got lots of candy. Then we had fun with our neighbors. We had well over 200 kids come and Trick or Treat us. And those kid all had at least a couple or more adults walking them around the neighborhood so we estimate we 400-500 people stop by our party throughout the night. When the kids and parents came up to the house and asked what was going on, we told them to come and cook a hot dog and s’more and grab a drink. Their eyes would light up and say “Wow!” and they would head to the fire pit. Throughout the night we had people hang out around the fire, cook a hot dog or s’more with a stick over the fire, and get a drink. Hands were shaken, introductions were exchanged, and life stories were connected. Besides the craziness of cars parked all over our streets the night went perfectly.
Everyone can reach their neighbors. This “church event” neighborhood party of 400-500 people was put together by the 11 families of my house church who each pitched in $20-$25 each for the food and drinks. If we had a church building it would have cost us allot more, and I believe allot less would have come. We did not have spend money to trying to “draw” people or get them to “come to us” by renting large blow-up stuff for kids or provide carnival-type games. We came to them in their neighborhood, and offered a fire pit and friendship. I don’t know how many of my neighbors stopped and took time to take family pictures and “selfies” in our front yard. Imagine if a church of 200 families instead making everyone come to them for a "Harvest Festival" divide the 200 families up in groups of 10 families and had 20 of these events at 20 houses around their city. It would be amazing!
Many of the people who came were people who don’t attend a church. That is who we hoped would come. People love Halloween so we did not “weird it out” by calling our gathering a “Harvest Festival” or as I saw a sign in front of one church a “Halleluiah Party.” Being real, non-church people do not want to attend either of these, the want to go to a Halloween Party. No one asked or cared if I was a church planter or that I am and Elder in the UMC, they just cared that I cared about their neighborhood. No formal prayer or liturgy was given in a building but I shared stories around a fire pit. Through people talking it got out around the fire who we were. I had several fathers who came up to me with a beer in their hand that they delighted in, come up to me and said, “So you guys are a church? How is that? Or “Tell me about it.” A party of over 400 people took place “in the community” and God was glorified. And we “loved our neighbors as we love ourselves.” And our neighbors loved us.
A father with three kids came up with them to get candy. The father said, “The kids all discussed before we headed out they wanted to go to this house last. Save the best for last! Plus once we come her we usually hang out awhile.” Then they headed towards the fire pit and fun. Another woman who found out I was a “pastor” came up and shared about her 30 year old son who was addicted to heroin and she did not know what to do and asked if I would help her.
How are you known in your neighborhood or apartment complex? Not your church whether it is ODC or another, but you personally? If you were to move out would your neighbors miss you? Would they grieve the loss of you in their lives? You were not sent by God to a church. You may have been called to help serve and participate in a church, but it is your neighborhood or apartment complex you find yourself in to whom you are sent. You are sent into your neighborhood to be to them a tangible example of the kingdom of God in their lives. You are sent to be to them examples of salt and light, justice and mercy, love and compassion, partying and banqueting, laughter and dancing.
My family, I am asking you to take time to pray over this today however not in your house or apartment or where you usually spend your devotion time, but in your neighborhood. Go outside and spend time prayer walking your neighborhood. Take your spouse, children or roommate with you. As you walk, pray over the houses and apartments to which you have been sent. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you opportunities to connect with your neighbors. Pray and come up with ways and events you can be to them tangible examples of salt and light, justice and mercy, love and compassion, partying and banqueting, laughter and dancing, in Jesus’ name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!
Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower
One Direction Community
Facebook: One Direction Community-ODC
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