by Pastor Justin Waples
It’s that time of year again!
Fall is here with leaves of beauty and crisp and frosty mornings to come. Chuck Swindoll puts it well when he says in his book Growing Strong in Seasons of Change, “What a refreshing change from oppressively hot afternoons and sweltering nights! There is a helpful return to routine as school starts. And along comes Thanksgiving, a nostalgic reminder that God has indeed ‘shed His grace on thee.’ The firewood is being cut. The pumpkins are getting bigger. Our hearts are overflowing… Fall is a time that reflects this change.” Let us use this season to grow strong in God’s Word, acknowledge the call to love our neighbors, and work towards having Gospel-motivated conversations.
We now have the wonderful opportunity to head into our front yards again and bring the Gospel with us! That’s right… it’s time for S’more Neighboring! Get it? Connect with a neighbor this Fall through a S’more party or a Fall-themed get-together. Check out the Outreach website for more details and many other Outreach ideas! And stop by the Gospel Resources to pick up information on hosting a wonderful S’more party. Find many other Gospel Resources designed for the season at the church’s Gospel Resource display.
We are excited to encourage S’more Neighboring this year and pray it becomes a tradition in your family to invite your neighbors into your life. Identify a neighboring family to invite over, gather some simple items from the grocery store, grab your firepit and roasting sticks, and show love and compassion to those closest to you. We pray this will kick off new and deeper relationships with your neighbors.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “
The general flow of today’s culture drifts towards isolation, and we must resist that idea. Inviting neighbors to your home opens the door to new or deeper relationships that can lead to spiritual conversations. Do you feel intimidated reaching out in your neighborhood? Consider inviting another family from your Bible Fellowship or Small Group to host the evening with you.
The interactive nature of making the s’more—roasting the marshmallow, choosing some fillings, and building the finished treat—gives people something to do with their hands and an activity to keep them from getting too nervous or feeling awkward. It’s a perfect way to combine something to eat AND something to do at your home.
Make it a fun evening by setting a few fall decorations on a table, and arranging the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow on trays or plates, so people feel comfortable grabbing what they want. Set up small tables and a few camp chairs and enjoy the company and fun! Be sure to pick up some themed Gospel Resources!
The Outreach Team at East White Oak is praying for you and your Gospel witness to your neighbors this fall.
As Chuck Swindoll said, “Weather changes. And the time changes. Birds make their annual journey southward. Squirrels finish storing their nuts. Salmon start their phenomenal swim back to their spawning grounds… With incredible consistency, all these creatures in the natural world act out their individual pageants without external instruction or some script to follow… God graciously moves upon our lives, taking us from summer to autumn, a season when He mysteriously writes His agenda on the tables of our hearts. Patiently He waits for change to begin. Without exception, it does.”
Be encouraged to build environments where you can have Gospel-motivated conversations with your neighbors this fall. We will be praying for you!
As you pray and prepare for your neighboring event, read, reflect, and pray through Matthew 22:36-40 | Psalm 51:10-13 and John 17:11-21
- Pray for boldness for the church to reach out to families.
- Pray for the open hearts of neighbors.
- Pray that the Gospel can be shared clearly.
- Pray that every Christ follower would make it a point to know and even befriend their literal neighbors.
- Thank God that the people who live around us are not accidents but providential appointments.
- Pray for God’s design in these neighborhoods.
- Pray for the church to live at a pace that allows folks to be available to those around them.
- Pray that the church would reflect personally on life goals that we make more important than taking the Great Commandment literally.
- Pray that the church would commit to taking the next step with our immediate neighbors this year.
- Pray that people would find two or three households in their neighborhoods with whom they are already connected and could be a potential partner in this venture.