Written by Melissa Miller
The lyrics from Mr. Roger’s famous opening sequence stuck in my head after only hearing the first few words. I was flipping channels and a Mr. Roger’s documentary promo came on screen for the briefest of moments. However, the song lodged in my head for days.
We all know the song, we’ve sung it since we were little kids…
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, would you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?”
What Mr. Rogers knew those many years ago was even young children are looking for a place to belong, looking for community and a place to connect.
That desire for community only gets stronger as we grow. We long to find our place in this world. Middle school, high school, and college are often viewed as the seasons in life considered the hardest or most important to find our place, but the challenge continues into adulthood.
Recently I experienced this in of all places, our church. It is my privilege and blessing to lead our Welcome Team at Allison Park Church’s Hampton Campus. Our mission is to make each “One” feel welcomed, loved, and secure. Each weekend, over 100 team members fan out all through the campus to provide welcoming touch points for our guests and members.
We have created not just teams but community and even a neighborhood of sorts. You can find us gathered at intersections through the church. Talking, connecting, praying and welcoming those entering our neighborhood.
We are always ready to welcome someone new into the church or onto the team. Recently several people at church shared how hard it can be to get connected and feel like you are part of the community. This made me so sad to hear because we are very intentional about creating an environment of community and they acknowledged the on ramps we have in place.
So what is going on?
What holds us back from finding our place and that neighborly spirit even at church?
Sometimes we really don’t know where to start. Sometimes the timing is off.
But often it is false thinking that holds us back and hinders us.
Where does this false thinking come from? We read in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Could it be that what is holding us back are really the lies of the enemy, the powers of this dark world?
Has the enemy ever whispered to you:
You don’t fit in.
They don’t need you.
Your past disqualifies you.
You never see things through.
You’ve tried to connect before and it never works.
You’re too shy, too quiet, too loud, too awkward, too old, too young ect, ect, ect.
We have been given the power through Jesus to overcome this thinking. As members of God’s community and His neighborhood, we have authority over these dark powers.
Here are just some of the truths about who we are in God’s eyes:
We are children of God. John 1:12
We have been chosen of God, and I am holy and beloved. Colossians 3:12
In Christ Jesus, we have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification & redemption. 1 Corth 1:30
We have been made complete in Christ. Colossians 2:9-10
We are chosen, holy, and blameless before God. Ephesians 1:4
We are redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ. Ephesians 1:7
We are God’s workmanship created to produce good works. Ephesians 2:10
We are friends of Jesus. John 15:15
When we step out, come together and connect we can encourage one another and lift each other up. There is a place for everyone in God’s neighborhood.
Hebrews 10: 24-25 tells us the benefits of living in community as neighbors, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (NIV)
Motivate one another to love and serve.
Keep meeting, show up even if you don’t always feel like it.
The excitement in the Message version of Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us a strong plan.
“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
Presentable inside and out, you are perfect in God’s eyes.
I encourage you, if you feel you are in a season where you need to connect into a community of neighbors in or out of church, take an action step.
“Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?”
Melissa Miller is the Welcome Team Director at the Allison Park Church Hampton Campus. During weekend services she can be seen shaking hand and dishing out hugs. At home she is hugging her hubby of 17 years and their 3 amazing kiddos. The front door is always open so they can all “Practice Hospitality!”