I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to really love the people He puts plainly in my path.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.'” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
But this love, as God’s Word declares, is more important than all the sacrifices we could make.
I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something. So can you. We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt us and rearrange our day.
We can go deeper … beyond a hurried “Hi!” to an authentic, “How are you?” When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.
Will you do it? Will you try? Then once you’ve reached out, leave the results to God. Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.
Here are 7 simple outreach ideas to do with those in your neighborhood, town or whomever you are wanting to reach with the love of Christ.
1. Bake something.
Bake a batch of cookies. Whip up a pan of brownies. Try your hand at some fancy muffins or scones. Deliver them in a basket lined with a new plaid kitchen towel to a neighbor or someone at work. Simply tell them you were thinking about them so you decided to bake them a little goodie. As you leave your treat, ask them if there is anything you can be praying about. Follow up with a handwritten note letting them know that you did pray for their request.
2. Take something.
Don’t have time to deliver some lovin’ from your oven? It doesn’t need to be homemade from scratch. You can also fill a basket with some seasonal fruits or vegetables or even purchased goodies from a farmers market. Try some crusty whole-grain bread and a jar or two of jam or a few jars of salsa and a bag of authentic tortilla chips.
3. Notice something.
Be on the lookout or ways to help your neighbor or coworker. Did you notice that the neighbor down the street was scraping their shed, ridding it of old peeling paint? The next time you see them out working away, show up with a scraper and a jug of homemade lemonade and help them tackle their chore. Did you overhear your coworker talking about their favorite childhood book? Go online to eBay and try to win them a copy of it. Wrap it up and give it to them as an un-birthday present.
Don’t just smile and wave as you pass by a neighbor’s house. Stop. Engage them in conversation. Ask what they have been up to lately or how their family members are doing. Really listen as they talk. If you sense any area of concern, let them know you will be praying for them. Don’t forget to ask if there is anything you can do to help.
Organize a get-together with your coworkers, or those in your neighborhood. My husband is famous for this. We have held several Christmas open houses, backyard neighborhood picnics, a crazy neighborhood game of road bowling and even a neighborhood Bible study. Or try an ice cream social. You provide bowls, spoons and napkins. Have guests bring one container of any flavor ice cream and one topping. I have one friend whose family does this every year on June 21 since it is the longest day of the year and stays light until quite late. It is surprising how willing people are to get together. They just need a point person to organize the gathering.
6. Lighten a load.
Is there someone in your neighborhood struggling with a family illness, recent death, or new addition to the family? No doubt they could use a little help. Look for creative ways to help with a task. Do they have older children who need to be run to activities by mom but the family has a brand new baby? Offer to play shuttle service for their children for a few weeks so mom can stay home and not have to take the baby back and forth to activities.
Hospitality is a lost art in our day and age. Summertime is a perfect time to invite others into your home. You can even relax about having the house clean and eat outside on a picnic table. Keep the food simple. Grill out or even order pizza. The point it to open your home, not to impress others with your cooking. Or if you prefer, invite them to accompany you on an outing such as a sporting event, festival or fair, or outdoor concert. Then, go to a local ice cream shop or coffeehouse for a treat and some time to visit.
For ideas on sprinkling God’s love all year round, check out Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World. Karen Ehman encourages us to to live alert, listening for “heart drops,” hints from those in our lives who need a helping hand or a generous dose of encouragement. Living alert lifts our own spirits, showing us that blessing others blesses us even more. Listen, Love, Repeat offers biblical teaching and suggests doable actions that are simple, heart-tugging, sentimental, even sneaky and hilarious. For a sneak peek at Listen Love Repeat, sign up for Karen’s How to Hear a Heart Drop five-day challenge.