Intentional Neighbor Week
Here at Grace, we celebrated our first ever Intentional Neighbor Week during March 7-11, 2022. Throughout the week, our Grace Family was encouraged to be contagiously outrageous within our community and share intentional neighbor cards along with their small, random acts of kindness. As you might imagine - it was a HUGE success, and we are so grateful to all the Grace Family who participated!
Countless stories in scripture attest to how generosity blesses not only the recipient but the giver as well. In our current, “me-centered” culture, being generous often falls second to our personal desires. However, the message of Christ shows us another way, a way that is counter-culture and oftentimes counterintuitive.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
What would our world look like if we focused on helping each other rather than prioritizing ourselves? What would change if we poured our love into the community in the same way Christ poured into the lives of the disciples? Truly, there’s no better example than Christ to exemplify the message of how every encounter with another soul is a precious opportunity to connect with others and share the love of God. Grace’s Intentional Neighbor Week was just the beginning of this, viewing every moment as a potential Heaven meets Earth moment!
Our Grace Family shared countless stories on social media, via website entries, through text messages, and more about how lives were being changed through this journey of generosity.
People were handing out baked goods, blessing people with gift cards, writing notes of encouragement, providing monetary donations, covering meal costs for others, and just taking that extra moment to smile or sit with another person and connect. No surprise, these messages became a source of inspiration to all!
Amidst the inspiration, Pastor Chip and Mindy Bennett shared a video on social media to keep the momentum going. Mindy challenged us to keep being “EXTRA-– extra kind, - extra generous, and -extra intentional with the people that God is putting in our path.” Pastor Chip excitedly agreed and reminded us of how even the littlest things can have a major impact.
During the Intentional Neighbor Week, one Grace member revealed, “I shared my card with complete strangers today. I decided to ask two ladies if they would mind if I bought their breakfast as part of my mission to be an intentional neighbor. They both grabbed my hand and said thank you and God Bless you! Needless to say, I had tears of joy flowing as I left. Thank you all so much for this effort in reminding us all how such a small act of kindness can mean so much.”
As reflected in Ephesians 3:20, God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine and can take our smallest offerings and multiply them in incredible ways.
Another Grace member wrote, “We asked people on our email list to join us in gathering supplies for Ukrainian Refugees. We also asked our neighborhood association to publicize it and now our dining room table is starting to overflow. I am calling it ‘The Table of Love.’ I am tucking those ‘You Are Loved’ cards into each bag or coloring book. This feels really good. God's blessings are overflowing in our crazy world. The local news even picked this up!”
Of course, Grace staff members were also motivated to do their part. Grace Kids went to the UTC Mall to hand out gift cards to families for ice cream at Big Olaf’s, Grace Outreach paid for tanks of gas at Wawa, Grace’s Creative Team wrote a note of encouragement and donated to a single mom who was struggling with health and medical issues, and the Guest Experience Team purchased $5 gas cards to lovingly share with those at gas stations, nearby coffee shops, and local restaurants.
As another Grace member explained, “In the end, the neighbors were so grateful and appreciative that it blessed me more than I felt like we blessed them!”
Being generous is not what Christ wants from us, but what He desires for us. Intentional Neighbor Week is designed to inspire all of us to be contagiously outrageous in our giving, not just with monetary items but also with ourselves – our time, our talent, and our hearts. Just imagine the impact we could make if we continued being intentional neighbors every day!
We encourage you to stop by the Get Involved Desk after any service to pick up more intentional neighbor cards and be a part of this experience as we reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ!
This is so fantastic!