At The Orchard Church we're taking time this year to ask the question, "Who is my neighbor?" It's important to recognize that we live where we live, work where we work and are surrounded by the people that we are surrounded with, not because of random chance, but by divine design.

Accordingly, we ought to take time to be praying for a handful of your neighbors and co-workers who need to know Christ (we recently handed out a prayer card where people could write down 5 names of friends that they were committing to pray for). It ought not to stop with prayer however. How could you connect with your neighbors in such a way as to tangibly demonstrate the love of Christ for them? We have some great opportunities coming up for this at The Orchard, but there is no need to wait, you can find some small way even today to serve someone on your street or in your office.

Check out some of what Christian writer Rebecca Livermore has to say about taking the step of inviting your neighbor to church:

Most of us feel a twinge of apprehension about inviting friends or neighbors to church. The following steps may help ease some of that fear and increase the likelihood that they'll say yes.

1. Begin to pray that God will soften their hearts and create opportunities for building friendship. Ask God to make it clear when the time is right to invite your friends to church.

2. Invite them into your life long before inviting them to church. Do things together. Serve them by delivering a meal when they are sick, watching their kids, and listening when they need to talk.

3. Slowly introduce them to others in your church. Invite them for dessert and coffee along with church friends. If everyone connects well, look for ways to get together in the future. The more "church people" your unsaved friends feel comfortable around, the less threatening the doors of the church will be.

4. Start small. Invite them to "neutral" church functions—a women's luncheon, an Easter Egg Hunt or movie night, etc. If you or other family members have a part in special event at church, or if one of your children is being dedicated, invite your friends to witness those special occasions. Small-group Bible studies, one day retreats, or vacation Bible school may be ways to ease your friends into the spiritual aspects of the church.

5. Talk about the benefits. When the opportunity arises, casually tell them how the church has been a blessing in your life. Pray for an opportunity to share your testimony of coming to faith in Christ with them.

6. When you sense the time is right, simply ask your friends if they would like to attend church with you next Sunday. With Easter coming up next month it can be a great opportunity to make an invitation.

7. If they say no, don't become discouraged and don't give up. Refuse to allow their negative response to create an uncomfortable tension in your relationship. Continue to be their friend, and wait for other opportunities to arise. When the timing seems right, ask again.

8. If they say yes, prepare them for the experience—it will reduce their anxiety. Let them know what you'll wear. Plan to meet up and go together or to grab lunch after the service.

Imagine what God might have in store as we obediently seek to love our neighbors, introduce them to Christ and connect them with His people. We have been given a great commission and it is a great privilege to be on mission with God and to trust Him with the results.


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