Several years ago Randy Frazee and Rick Howerton launched me and my family into a lifestyle of making room for neighbors. That lifestyle continues today and we continue to see the multiplication as neighbors repeat the practice.
It all began with a 42-inch picket fence. Randy, in his book The Connecting Church, encourages the readers to not build privacy fences. He says to build 42-inch picket fences so you can talk over them to your neighbors. I even joke that 42iinch tall fence is perfect height to lean on as you talk. Fortunately, when we moved into our neighborhood, both our neighbors had 42-inch sectional fences.
For the first couple of years, I would make time for neighbors by talking to them over the backyard fence. Many times I would lean on their fences and chat. This investment over time developed into a deep friendship. The couple joined our small group. We ate meals together. We helped each other with projects, doctor visits, and service to other neighbors. We shared a lot of laughter about what God had done through our relationship that started by leaning on a backyard fence.
The time came when our neighbors had to move. It was a very sad day for us. We trusted God in what He was doing in all of our lives. They moved into an apartment in a much larger city, where they knew no one.
About a year after moving, I received a call from our friends. We caught up on old times. We laughed about the projects and ‘trouble’ we used to get into together. Then my friend mentioned our backyard conversations and how I leaned on his fence as we talked about projects, life, family and God. He complained how he thought I had wore the paint off his rail fence by standing there so many times as we talked. He then said “You know, I am doing that same thing with a guy who is far from Christ right here in our apartment building, except I am using a truck fender since we do not have a fence.” We both laughed out loud.
God had used a fence and many conversations over time to draw an entire family to Him. Now, He is multiplying that practice to the next recipient hours away from where it started.
Spring is here and summer is near! Beautiful weather invites you to come lean on a fence.
Post by Eddie Mosley, GroupLife Pastor. The original post is from Eddie’s blog, Connecting in Communities, where you can read more stories and gain valuable tools for leading groups. Eddie has written a book with the same title as his blog, Connecting in Communities. Eddie brings an infectious enthusiasm for people to experience life-change at LifePoint as he gives direction and strategy to adult small groups and other adult ministries. You can also follow Eddie on Twitter and Facebook.