Where We Learned to be Missional. HINT: It Wasn't the Church

So, you want to be more missional, right? You want to get out into your community. You want to get to know your neighbors and the people you interact with. You want to find ways to build relationships with people. As a Christian, your job is to help people see Jesus by the way you live and interact with them.

But, who do you turn to for guidance in this? Who can teach you how to live a more missional lifestyle? Where will you learn how to get to know people and build relationships with them? 

You want to know who we learned it from?

Let us tell you a story.

We were out to dinner for our weekly date night. Yes, we have a weekly date night. We have three children. Three boys. And at the time, their ages were 4, 3, and 1. We needed a weekly date night. And we still do.

Anyway. We finish dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. If you're ever near East Sacramento, you have to try Formoli's Bistro. Hands down, the best whiskey burger you'll ever eat.

Well, when we walked out the door, we realized it was far too early to go home. The boys weren't asleep yet, and we certainly didn't want to deal with the bedtime routine on our date night. Right?

So, instead, we decided to go for a stroll through the neighborhood around the restaurant. There are some very unique houses in the area, and it was a beautiful Summer evening. So we just started walking.

Eventually, we found ourselves walking toward a house that had about 25-30 people in the front yard. There were tables and chairs and food and drinks. And a life-size cardboard Elvis to top it all off. 

Joe said, "Awe, it looks like we're walking on the wrong side of the street. I want to go to that party." And Sarah just shook her head at how silly that sounded.

Then a man from the party walked out to the curb with a beer in his hand and yelled, "Hey! Don't come over here and drink any of our free beer!"

Joe immediately turned toward the house and pulled Sarah along with him.

"What are you doing?"

"That was an invitation!"

And from across the street we hear, "No! I said DON'T come over here and drink our free beer!"

Joe responded, "Oh, no. We're just passing by."

And the man said, "Seriously though. You better stop for a drink. Because, if you don't, we're all going to talk crap about you as soon as you walk away. So, what'll it be? We have beer and wine. I have a really nice rye over there."

Joe had a glass of rye with our new host, and Sarah enjoyed a glass of wine with his wife and the other women gathered around. Almost 3 hours passed before we went home that night.

We returned to that house every Wednesday for the rest of the summer to hang out with our new friends.

And when they decided to bring their weekly gatherings to an end, we stole their idea and started bringing tables with food and drinks (no cardboard Elvis though) out in our front yard once a week.

We learned more about living on mission in the front yard of a stranger than we ever had in a church building

These new friends of ours had the concept of being a good neighbor figured out. And you remember what he used to reel us in? Drinks. A couple weeks ago, we wrote an article about the Top 2 Missional Tools That Start A Conversation Every Time. And these new friends of ours taught us just how effective those tools can be.

In the years that have passed since that first meeting, we've taken our kids to what we call our "2nd Neighborhood" for holiday events. We see our "2nd Neighbors" all around town, and they come to gatherings in our front yard too. 

All it took was for one person to step out into the street to invite a stranger over for a drink. It seems so simple. But it can be so intimidating.

What is holding you back? What prevents you from inviting someone you don't know very well over for a drink? Or for dinner. Or to watch a game. Or play a game. 

If they turn down your invitation, so what? You don't really have anything to lose. But, think about the potential for new and better friendships. 

So make a plan. It doesn't have to be a big party in your front yard. But come up with a way you can reach out to someone this week. Meet someone new. Or get to know someone a little better.

Share your ideas in the comments. If you have ideas, others could benefit from hearing them.

And, even better, come back and share how it goes! We want to hear your stories. Both the successes and the failures!