A New Excuse Not to Love My Neighbor
In my continual quest to find an exception clause or asterisk to Christ’s Second Greatest Command, I have a new excuse I’m sure the Lord has never heard before:
“My neighborhood is a ghost town.”
I live on a guest ranch in Colorado where the cabins are named for abandoned ghost towns. We have a handful of permanent residents, but hundreds of different families shuffle through the ranch throughout the year. Just up the road is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns in Colorado, St. Elmo. Many of the homes nearby are used as short-term vacation rentals that sit empty much of the time.
Maybe your neighborhood feels like a ghost town, too? Glimpses of strangers behind shuttered windows. Vacant driveways, creaking swing sets, silent streets. I’ve lived in places with verifiable real people living in every home that still felt deserted, empty… and lonely.
As the pandemic slowly eases, I find myself feeling closed off and isolated in ways that don’t have anything to do with my remote mountain cabin. I missed making small talk in line at the grocery store, holding doors open for strangers. I missed lingering in the foyer at church. I missed my home filled with chattering, laughing women. I missed neighboring.
H2 Luckily, I know just how to fix that.
I’m starting a new Neighborhood Café!
Starting a Neighborhood Café is simple:
- Host an Open House for your neighbors
- Invite them back for Bible study
I created an INVITATION to an Open House at the end of September, followed by a Bible study in October. We’re going to read the book of 1 Peter together using material from the new book I’m working on, Hope Fully: How to Turn Uncertain Times Into a Surprisingly Hopeful New Normal.
Because this is a question you dear readers ask all the time, here’s how to I transition from Open House to Bible Study:
Please come meet our neighbors at an open house on Friday, September 24, from 9-10:30 am. No one will try to sell you anything, I promise. You’re also invited to come back for Bible study every Friday morning in October (please come to the Open House even if that’s not your cup of tea!).
I made a MAP of the local roads to keep track of who I’ve invited, and asked neighbors I do know for ideas on who to ask. Rural folks have to draw bigger circles to love their neighbor – I can see my friend Bobbi’s house “across the street” but to knock on her door would be a challenging hike, and my “neighbor” Elsa’s farm is a twisty ten-minute drive away!
How big is your circle?
How many neighbors do you know?
Let us know in the comments!
My decision to start a new Neighborhood Café was made pretty quickly because I want to do something before Christmas. If I think about it too long, I’m sure I can come up with a dozen new excuses!
Yes, I’m nervous.
No, I don’t have time.
Yes, my dog barks misbehaves.
No, my house isn’t perfect.
Would you like to start a Neighborhood Café with me? Everything you need to get started is available for free. I’ll be right there with you, and you can listen in on my personal pep talks and share your own great ideas. You don’t have to launch a big-deal Bible Study. You can simply have coffee. You can work on a craft. You can share a short devotion from your favorite author. The point is to set aside time and space to make friends with your neighbors.
Don’t spend too much time thinking about how to love your neighbor, or you’ll come up with new excuses, too. Drop your best excuse in the comments, and we’ll overcome them together.