Ah, summer! We spend all year long looking forward to summer. The smell of fresh air, freshly cut grass, and beautiful flowers—no school and summer vacations. Even the word “summer” has a warm, friendly ring to it. Summer is when we all take a big long break. But there is one thing that we never get to take a break from – can you guess what it is? Yep, it’s being a minister of the gospel! 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not….”
So, how do we turn our summers into opportunities for ministry? Read along with me today as we explore some ways to use the dog days of summer as an opportunity to expand the influence of Jesus in your neighborhood!
It goes without saying that our neighborhoods are one of our primary places of ministry. First, we have our homes, then we have our work, and then we have where we live. If you live in cold, snowy, or rainy climates during the wintertime, getting to know your neighbors can be a little more difficult in the winter. Most people sort of “hermit” away in their homes during these inhospitable months. Growing up in Minnesota, we never really knew when summer would come. Some years spring would be perfectly timed in April, and summer would come along in June. Other years, like this year, winter lasted until May, and then one day, it was 80 degrees. But whenever, and however it comes, when it does – the doors open, the jackets come off, and the sunscreen gets lathered! Out comes the barbecue, the lawnmower, and the hedge trimmer; in comes the opportunity to get to know our neighbors and serve them well!
It is a universal truth that people love to be outside when the weather is nice. And when they are outside, that means you have the chance to get to know them.
One of the things I love to do in summer is hosting a potluck or a cookout. When the grill is in the front of the house, it’s super easy to invite my neighbors over for a burger or a Coke (or, in my case, a Mountain Dew). This gives me the chance to bless them with a meal and strike up a conversation. The same goes for if I’m out on a walk and my neighbor is in their front yard. I’ll stop and say hello and ask how their day is going. These small connections can open the door for even greater ministry opportunities in the future!
Another great way to engage with your neighbors is to find ways to serve them. For example, if you see someone working on a project in their yard, lend a hand! Or, if you have elderly neighbors or neighbors with mobility issues, offer to mow their lawn after cutting your own. I know someone who does tree-trimming on the side and will offer it to his neighbors in exchange for dinner. What a great idea! That way, he gets to serve and connect!
The point is that your neighborhood is ripe with opportunities to be Jesus to someone. Remember, as a Jesus Follower, EVERYTHING about you should be changing, and EVERYONE around you should be benefitting from your faith, whether they believe in Jesus or not.
Used with permission from Jim Brangenberg.