How to be a welcoming neighbor

Do Good Family Roadmap: Be a welcoming neighbor

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As kids, our two favorite shows were “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Both shows invited us into different worlds and introduced us to people we had never seen before. Mister Rogers, especially, was intentional about inviting lots of different people into his home. He was famous for calling everyone his neighbor.

You may be wondering: “How could everyone be my neighbor?”

It’s true, we tend to think of the people who live near us as our neighbors, not everyone. But God invites us to see and treat every person we meet with love and kindness as if they were our next-door neighbor. 

Most of us would rather pick and choose who our neighbors are because it is hard to love everyone. Yet, throughout the Bible, God continually calls us to love everyone, to care for them and even invite them into our homes.

Over the next four weeks, journey with us in this study to see what God says about how to love our neighbors.

Each week includes five steps to follow with your family:

STEP 1: Prepare Your Heart—put away distractions and pray for God to show you something new.

STEP 2: Learn from the Word—read a passage of Scripture together.  

STEP 3: Ask Questions—discuss the verses together as a family using the question prompts.

STEP 4: Name the Truth—discover the truth God wants you to take away using the reading thought material provided.

STEP 5: Take Action—think of ways you can put God’s truth into action and complete the action ideas on your Do Good Family Roadmap. (Consider setting a family reward for completing the full roadmap, such as an ice cream outing. Get input from your family and let everyone know you’ll enjoy the reward when you complete the neighborly actions as a family.)

So, in the words of Mister Rogers, “Would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my neighbor,” as we journey through God’s Word?

Part three of four; read part two here.

STEP 1: Prepare your heart.

Put away distractions and pray, “God show us something new today.”

STEP 2: Learn from the Word.

As a family, read what Scripture says in John 4:4-29.

STEP 3: Ask questions.

Discuss the passage together as a family. Consider:

  • How do you think the Samaritan woman felt when Jesus talked to her?
  • Have you ever noticed any kids who didn’t have anyone to play with? What did you do about it?
  • What are some reasons someone might be outcasted from others?
  • What can we do when we see others who are excluded?
  • How would you share your faith with a friend?

STEP 4: Name the truth.

Discover the truth God wants you to take away. Use the following as a guide.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong or like people didn’t like you? Maybe you even feel like that right now.

The woman Jesus met at the well in this passage felt the same way—unimportant, outcast, disliked and even abused. She was probably the last person anyone thought Jesus would stop and talk to but her encounter with Jesus is one of the most famous and important stories in the New Testament.

It’s unexpected for a few reasons:

  • First, she is a woman and during Jesus’ time women couldn’t study the Bible, go to school or own property. Women were considered second to men. Most Jewish men, like Jesus, would have never walked up to a woman who was alone, let alone talk to her about God.
  • Second, she was a Samaritan. As we learned in week one, Samaritans and Jews did not get along and lived completely separate lives. Samaria was where all the Samaritans lived—and Jewish people would avoid going to Samaria at all costs. They would never talk to a Samaritan.
  • Third, this woman had a difficult life. She was not living the way God teaches us to live. She had a lot of husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband. She had become an outcast among her own people, which is why she was at the well by herself getting water at the hottest time of the day. She was trying to avoid encountering anyone who could make fun or her or put her down.

Despite all of the reasons not to, Jesus chose to go to Samaria. He chose to speak with this outcast of a woman who no one wanted to talk to. And most importantly, he chose to tell her about a God who loved her and could change her life. Jesus did the opposite of what everyone else was doing, and he calls us to do the same thing.

Instead of judging people or making fun of others, we have to love them. Instead of running away from outcasts or those who are different, we should run toward them and show them compassion. And instead of keeping people out of church or the kingdom of God, we must invite them to get to know Jesus and follow him.

Jesus went toward the vulnerable, lonely and outcast people—and so must we.

STEP 5: Take action on your Do Good Family Roadmap.

Put God’s truth into action and be a welcoming neighbor this week with these action ideas (and don’t forget to mark them complete on your roadmap—download it here!):

  • Write it out. Just like you’d welcome a new neighbor to your street, decide on a neighbor you want to make feel extra welcome. Find a card or piece of paper and write a handwritten note telling them how much they mean to you. Mail it, drop it in their mailbox or take it to their door with a plate of cookies or flowers. 
  • Express thanks. Consider making expressing gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime or in the car. Encourage your family to express appreciation for each other, their teachers or others who contribute to their life. Lead the way with your own expressions.
  •  Capture caring moments. Tell your family you’ll be on the lookout for caring moments where they do something kind or caring. When you notice one, highlight it by taking a real or pretend photo. Make an imaginary camera with your hands and “take” a photo. When you praise your family members as being caring, it will help them see themselves as people who helps and care for others, which will encourage this behavior in the future. Instead of saying, “That was very kind of you,” emphasize “You are such a kind person.” If you take actual photos, consider creating a caring wall.
  • Share the Word. Grab some sidewalk chalk and create your own family art walk outside. Challenge your family to be creative in drawing encouraging Scripture verses, such as:
    • This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
    • May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love. – Jude 1:2
    • “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you…” – Isaiah 43:2
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

Download the complete Do Good Family Roadmap now and take a 4-week journey for families in how to be a good neighbor. Follow the guide to see what the Bible says about the art of neighboring and take tangible steps together on your printable roadmap to be a caring, helpful, welcoming and supportive neighbor right where you are. 

Do Good:

  • How do we treat everyone with love and kindness, as if they were our neighbor? Get the Do Good Family Roadmap and take a 4-week journey for families in how to be a good neighbor. Follow the guide to see what the Bible says about the art of neighboring and take tangible steps together on your printable roadmap to be a caring, helpful, welcoming and supportive neighbor right where you are. 
  • You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.
  • Get support from moms who are right there with you. Join the Caring Moms Collective and find a place of low-pressure, high-encouragement love anytime you need it, whether you know it or not. Get in the group today.
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