As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors — that is, everyone. But one of the most impactful ways we can do that is to get to know our literal next-door neighbors. A seemingly random group of people has been assembled in your neighborhood from different backgrounds and belief systems. It can be a perfect opportunity to reach out to people you wouldn’t normally see in your day-to-day activities.
But how do you do it without being pushy or annoying? There are several books that have been released recently that talk about this very thing. Below are three that explore the topic and share how the authors were able to cultivate genuine relationships with their neighbors without being too forward.
The Turquoise Table by Kristen Schell.
Schell takes the idea of simply being available and puts it into practice in this book, painting a picnic table an eye-catching turquoise and plunking it in her front yard. Sitting there with a cup of coffee, pitcher of water or just a smile, she found that just being brave enough to show up was a catalyst to true relationship-building within her neighborhood. Now, she calls the group of people who have taken on this idea themselves “front yard people” and enables other people to use turquoise tables to create community and change lives, too.
The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
Pathak and Runyon are two pastors who decide to take the call of Jesus literally when he says to “love your neighbor,” but with the nuance of not making our neighbors our “projects.” The authors urge readers to form true relationships with the people around them and gives practical advice on how to do so. What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those right next door? This book explores this concept and challenges us to get outside our comfort zone to love others well.
How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively
The quirk of Lively’s sense of humor is evident in the title of this book, speaking to the main fear of most Christians when it comes to pursuing relationships with our neighbors: what if they think I’m weird? Lively bravely steps into this tension with simple, practical steps on how to overcome your fear and be a neighbor using your God-given personality and gifts — not forcing you to be someone you’re not. She shares personal stories of how she, too, faced her fear and the blessings and life-change that resulted from following God’s calling.