#4: ServeLove Your Neighbor Challenge
Your next Love Your Neighbor Challenge is to serve your neighbors. Intentionally serve outside your usual church circles to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and interests… kinda like Jesus did when He left heaven to come serve us.
Choose a local organization or cause that aligns with your passion and experience, and spend some time learning about the people they serve and how they are structured.
Here are some tips to help you get started!
Serve with your hands
Invest some elbow grease and get your hands dirty.
- Visit VolunteerMatch to find a variety of opportunities to serve at charitable, civic, social, educational, governmental, and political organizations.
- Volunteer as a crossing guard or help with the after-school program at your local elementary school, or tutor high school students.
- Assist shoppers at a food pantry and help restock the shelves.
- Play games with children at a homeless shelter.
- Be a friendly greeter to women and families visiting a pregnancy service center.
- Clean pens or groom animals at an animal shelter.
- Serve a meal and a smile with compassion to folks dining at a soup kitchen.
- Read to the elderly or infirm at a nursing home – and listen to their stories, too.
- Deliver a hot meal to Meals on Wheels recipients.
- Schedule donors for a Red Cross blood drive.
- Pick up litter or guide tours through your parks department.
- Pick up trash in your neighborhood or weed a public flower bed. Trash attracts more trash, and by cleaning it up you send a message that people care about your neighborhood.
Serve with your mind
Use your spiritual gifts in civic organizations, and serve with your skills.
- Design a poster or advertisement.
- Create a website.
- Manage their social media.
- Serve on an advisory board.
- Volunteer to make phone calls to thank donors.
Serve with your mouth
Now that you’re familiar with a local cause, become a spokesperson and advocate in the community by publicizing their needs.
- Talk to others about how they can serve, too.
- Share newsletters with friends.
- Post their activity on social media.
- Think of people you know who might be interested in this cause, and make these introductions and connections.
Serve with your wallet
Financial gifts are always welcome, and there’s a need for every budget.
- Consider making a regular financial contribution of a few dollars a month.
- Donate household goods to local charities.
- Contribute food to pantries.
- Deliver pet food to animal shelters.
- Supporting local school and park levies is a unique way to love your neighbor. Even if you don’t have children in the school system or you don’t use the parks, any investment in your community pays dividends in increased property values and opportunities for others.
Serve on your knees
If serving in person is not possible for you, serve in spirit.
- Commit to pray for them regularly.
- Learn the organization’s regular operational needs, and pray that God would provide for them.
- Send the organization an encouraging card to let them know you are praying for them.
“I don’t have time.”
Serving our neighbor takes time. When I pulled out every excuse in the book about why I didn’t have time, God showed me who was really in control of my calendar. My work was fraught with setbacks and struggles; at home, I couldn’t keep my house clean or get dinner on the table. My personal time with God was practically nonexistent. For every minute I hoarded, two more were wasted on silly goof-ups and dumb mistakes.
“I was afraid to lay my daily planner on the altar. I wanted to make my own plans and be in charge of my own day. But an amazing thing happened when I finally made the time to get to know my neighbors: God magnified each minute.”
How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird, page 96
Our excuses about our time are legit: our calendars really are crowded. But since there’s no exception clause to the “love your neighbor” command, we have to find time to comply. If you carve out the time, God will honor your commitment and bless your community. It’s a win-win!
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If these tips and tools have given you a new idea, if you’ve met a new neighbor or thought about your neighbors in a different way, would you please let me know?
Contact me or message me on Instagram or Facebook. I’d love to hear your stories!