Toby's practical tips for being a pastor of your street.
1. Care – Being a pastor of your street is all about caring deeply for your neighbours. Ask God to help you do this because sometimes we do not feel like doing it. In the past, I have avoided neighbours because I have felt too busy but Mother Teresa, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13:3, stated, “We cannot do great things, but only small things with Great Love.”
2. Remembering people’s stories -Building a relationship with them through understanding and remembering their stories. This involves listening to them and remembering what their hobbies and interests are; what their milestones and challenges have been; and what they aspire to. I would argue that understanding and then remembering story is as important and as remembering their name.
For example, my neighbour, loves fishing, his chickens, and playing AC/DC music on his guitar. He also aspires to upgrade his boat so that he’s got a more reliable engine to go out more.
If possible, it’s good to try and find a common ground between you and your neighbour, for example, I also like boating and so we chat about engines and boats to deepen our friendship.
Reminding people that you remember their story can also be a great way of reinforcing your connection with them.
3. Prayer Walking your street – intentionally praying for people by name if you can. If you have children, bring them with you!
4. Be interruptible – stop and try to move beyond just saying, “hi”. Jesus used interruptions the whole time to connect with people, even when it was inconvenient to him. See, for example, Mark 6:35-43, the feeding of the five thousand; or Mark 5:31, the woman who was bleeding.
5. Note any deeper needs – for example, one neighbour of mine has had a recent loss in of his best friend and so remembering his best friend’s name and listening to him as he recalls all his memories may have helped him grieve.
6. Food – drop off a flyer to your street offering help and food from LifeCare with your name and number on it. If someone has lost their job or asks for practical help, take them a LifeCare Hamper with a personalised card.
7. Serving others and letting people serve you – Don’t be the expert and allow people to serve you as you serve them.
8. Be extra grateful – Remember to say thank you for anything that you receive from your neighbour in a way that they might like. In Warneet, this has involved me delivering a thank you gift to someone who helped me out with 50 surgical face masks. Others have received flowers from Laura.
9. Look out for people of peace – A person of peace is somebody who likes you, listens to you, and serves you. They could be open to following Jesus.
10. Think about what next – Could you invite them to your Life Group or to Alpha or to church? Or ask them to read the Bible with you using the Discovery Bible Method?