Randy Frazee: reaching your neighbors through parties

The members of the Home Group knew that God wanted them to share their faith with their neighbors—something no one in the group had been comfortable doing before. In commitment to this biblical purpose, each household agreed to pray for three other households in the neighborhood. During their evening prayer time (a fifteen-to thirty-minute period of time), they would pray for these families by name. In addition, they committed to looking for opportunities to help these families and to share their faith with them. When they went for walks in the evening, they would often say a prayer as they passed these neighbors’ homes. The group decided not to be pushy, but intentional. The grace of Christ just didn’t seem to fit with the hard-sell approach.

It was a slow process but an effective one. As time went by, the other neighbors knew of the Home Group’s existence. Because the Home Group families spent a lot of time in their front yards and went back and forth to each others’ homes so often, they became the best-known and most winsome neighbors on the block. Most people became naturally attracted to them—though a few raised their eyebrows in hesitation.

The Home Group members tried a wide variety of activities to reach out to neighbors. They planned a New Year’s Eve “progressive dinner” party to which they invited all the neighbors. On Wednesday nights the men got together for pickup basketball games at a neighbor’s house. The women scheduled an occasional evening out for dinner. Neighborhood children were routinely invited to join the other children at Home Group meetings on Sundays.

Home Group members soon realized that one of the most effective ways to engage a family was to invite them to come to a worship service at church. They discovered that 50 percent of the invited people would go just by virtue of receiving a simple invitation. Because their church’s worship services were so biblically focused and so relevant to daily living, the members of the Home Group were almost certain that those they invited to come would enjoy it.

Everyone was incredibly excited when a neighborhood couple who had begun to attend church came to trust Christ as their Savior following a service where the pastor had delivered a clear message on the core belief of salvation by grace. The couple naturally (better to say, supernaturally) became a part of Bob and Karen’s Home Group. They were grandparents who added a wonderfully rich diversity to the group. For the first time in Bob and Karen’s life they were evangelizing. Yet, it seemed so natural, so right. What a joy they were experiencing as they pointed others to the most significant transformation possible—new life through Jesus Christ. — Frazee, Randy; Larry Crabb; George Gallup; Dallas Willard (2009-05-19). The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community (pp. 214-216). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.