If you are new in your town or city or you’ve lived there a while and still feel disconnected, don’t wait for an invitation. Initiate! Reach out to those around you and try not to get discouraged if you feel like it’s one-sided for a while. Here’s what Susan Miller has to say about reaching out and connecting with others. (Excerpted from After the Boxes Are Unpacked)
Put the welcome mat out.
“Be hospitable to one another” (1 Peter 4:9).
Genuine hospitality involves opening your heart and your home, selflessly sharing yourself and what you have. Hospitality begins in conversation, in encounter, in eye contact, in attentive listening. It's about people, not preparation.
Consider this: If a new family has moved to your neighborhood, invite them over for a casual cookout, along with other neighbors to meet and greet.
Come alongside someone.
“If one falls, the other pulls him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10, TLB).
What can you do to come alongside someone who needs a helping hand in your new community or church? Do you see a need? Then fill it! When a person or a situation tugs at your heart, act on it.
Consider this: Offer to take a couple of meals to a new mom just home from the hospital, or make a grocery run for her.
It takes a little encouragement.
“Encourage one another and build up one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Encouragement is the act of inspiring others with renewed courage, a renewed spirit, and a renewed hope. It can be as simple as an act of kindness, a note of reassurance, a word of cheer, or a gesture of support. It’s intentionally doing or saying something to build someone up. Some of the things I love to say to encourage others include: “I believe in you,” “You can do it,” and “I’m your biggest fan.”
Consider this: Send a card or a note encouraging your pastor, a teacher, or anyone who has made a difference in your life.
How can I serve you?
“But the greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
It’s pretty amazing that Jesus – Jesus! – actually kneeled down with a basin and a towel to wash the disciples’ stinky, dusty, dirty feet.
Sometimes that’s what serving is all about: humbling yourself to do something that’s out of your comfort zone or makes you sweat a little.
Consider this: Offer to help unpack boxes when someone new has moved in with small children, or better yet, offer to babysit.
Be with me.
"You will give me back my life and give me wonderful joy in your presence” (Acts 2:28, TLB).
Today, though we live in a world of people longing to connect, we are alienated from each other. In crowds of people, we are lonely. We go to church, but are uninvolved. We wave to our neighbors, but don’t take the time to get to know them. Our emptiness is filled with busyness instead of relationships.
We have a “being with” crisis in our communities, in our neighborhoods, and even in our families.
But you can choose to stop that pattern.
Consider this: Visit someone who has been uprooted and moved to an assisted-living facility.
Just show up!
“Go and get him and comfort him.” (Genesis 21:18, TLB).
Just showing up in someone’s life can make the difference between hope or despair, laughter or tears, calm or anxiety, happiness or sadness. All it takes is you.
Consider this: Show up by celebrating the birthday of a newcomer who may not know anyone nearby. (It could be someone from work, church, or your neighborhood.)
Listen to my heart speak.
“A wise man listens to others” (Proverbs 12:15, TLB).
You recognize the telltale signs: sadness in her eyes, shoulders drooping from the weight of the world, tears close to the surface. Her world has turned upside down. She’s been uprooted by a major life change and has lost her sense of self and purpose. You know the feeling - you’ve been there, or maybe you still are.
She needs someone who will not just listen without judgment, but with a compassionate, sensitive heart. Someone who will show love and care by listening to the cry of her heart.
Consider this: When a new friend is going through a tough transition after moving, listen to her story with an understanding heart. You might be a step further down the road of adjustment than she is.
Give to my need.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
There are different ways to meet a person’s needs. It might be food on the table, clothes for the closet, needed home repairs, yard maintenance, babysitting—you name it. It could be financial support for a church, a ministry, a missionary, or another worthy cause. Or an anonymous gift to help out a family or a friend. When you see a need, do whatever you can—just do something, in the name of Jesus.
Consider this: There is someone who needs to be included in your Bible study or other activity. She might need a ride to get there too.
If you look back over each idea for reaching out, you'll see they all reflect how Jesus did it. He didn’t just tell us what to do; He demonstrated it. He lived it out.