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Fresh Grounded Faith Conference

She got her ticket and is excited to spend the day listening to one of her favorite speakers, Jennifer Rothschild. She’s followed her for years and is glad to finally be seeing her in person.

She bought a ticket for her and her neighbor. After hearing the pastor’s message on reaching our neighbors, she bravely left her comfort zone and walked next door to invite the lady she usually only waves to when leaving her driveway. Surprisingly, she was so friendly and welcoming. Her neighbor is an introvert by nature and has really been feeling like she needs a friend or two lately. She’s so grateful she came over to invite her to the conference and she immediately wrote it on her calendar.

A Sunday School class of 12 women who’ve known each other for years have gone together to get group tickets. They’re not really concerned with who’s speaking; they’re more interested in spending time together doing something fun.

“Laura Story is a truly gifted worship leader,” she tells her mom. She downloads some of Laura’s songs and shares the playlist with her mom. They buy their tickets and secure the babysitter for the day. Her mom has never been to a women’s conference, but she’s excited for the day.

She saw a flyer in Starbucks. She’s new to the area and doesn’t have any friends yet. She’s never heard of the speaker or worship leader, but she is willing go by herself in hopes of connecting with some like-minded women. Who knows? She may even find a new home church.

She has an old friend at the gym and she’s been trying to find different ways to share her faith with her. Her friend has no faith background and has struggled recently with some difficult relationships. She invites her friend to come with her and her friend says maybe it’s just what she needs.

She lives in a diverse neighborhood and has talked to her neighbor across the street on occasion. She knows she struggles with her English and is afraid to get out and make friends. Because the conference will have Spanish and Korean translation, she is excited to invite her. She’s hoping her neighbor will also meet some friends who speak her native language.

Take time to look around and see who you might invite. There may be many reasons someone agrees to come. Be intentional to think of everyone you come in contact with each day. 

Several years ago a young woman called my office and I felt the Spirit prompting me to invite her to the conference. When I asked her about it, she said, “Yes,” right away. After the event she told me how glad she was she had come. She had been struggling and said the day was just what she needed. She ended the conversation with, “You’ll never know how much your invite meant to me.”

Who is God asking you to invite today?

Michele Husfelt works with Ministry Development for NorthStar Women's Network.

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7 Ways to Stay Connected During the Holidays

With Demanding December already upon us, here are a few ideas to consider as we all strive to make our Season of Celebration less stressful and more meaningful. These would all work well in your neighborhood, with a few friends or with any small group. If you’re inviting neighbors, be sure to include those who may not proclaim faith in Jesus. I find this is an easy, non-threatening way for them to hear the gospel. Inevitably, those with The Good News will be sharing what God has been doing in their life at any of these gatherings. It would also be a natural, appropriate time to share an advent devotion or a gospel-centered story.
Book Exchange- Invite friends or neighbors to come and bring a copy of their favorite book to exchange. This might be a favorite childhood book, the latest novel they read, an invaluable travel book, or a book that has been life changing. We exchanged our books last year by implementing the “stealing game,” but you can decide how you want to distribute the gifts. By popular demand, our neighborhood ladies are doing this same get-together again this year. Provide light refreshments and if someone asks if they can bring something, let them!
Cookie Exchange- This is a great/terrible one for me as homemade cookies cause me to have absolutely-not-one-ounce of self-control. But I do this for my friends, of course! Send out invitations asking each guest to bring two dozen HOMEMADE cookies. (They can include bars, fudge, etc.) Provide containers for the guests to take two dozen cookies home. You can give prizes for the best-tasting cookie, the best-looking cookie and the best display of cookies, if you’d like. You might also like to provide a few savory snacks to eat during your get-together. 
Coffee Walk & Talk- Gather a few friends/neighbors and meet up at a local coffee shop. Grab your drinks and head outside for a bit of sunshine and a time of relaxing on a leisurely walk. Talk about your holiday plans, what God’s been teaching you this year, your expectations for the coming year, etc.
Christmas Caroling- This is STILL so much fun. While it’s not as popular as it used to be, we’ve done this for many years and our neighbors still enjoy opening their doors to carolers in their front yard attempting to sing! We bring the kids, the strollers, the husbands, and the dogs and have a fun time strolling the neighborhood and then finish the night with hot cocoa and cookies. Bring candy canes to pass out to those brave enough to open their doors and listen to you sing! 

Gift-Wrap Get-Together- Share the evening together AND cross a task off your to-do list! Invite friends/neighbors to bring their unwrapped gifts and wrapping supplies. Provide simple refreshments and enjoy each other’s company as you wrap your gifts and share your supplies.
Saturday Morning Breakfast- Pancakes and bacon are an easy way to feed a crowd. Whether it be a few friends or a neighborhood, gather for a Saturday morning in December. You’ll find most people are freer then and able to enjoy a fun morning with friends. 

Wait until January!!- January seems to slow us down and our calendars are usually less cluttered. If you can’t fit a get-together in December, wait until January and celebrate the new year together. Several of these ideas can be adapted and done any time.  

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Temporary Neighbors? Yes, Please!

 I’m excited for you all to meet my friend, Karen, and hear what she's learning lately about neighboring.

Karen and I grew up in a small town in the panhandle of Florida. We lived across the street from each other, both relocating there in elementary school as military kids. Long summer days of playing in the woods, exploring the neighborhood and frequenting friends’ houses, we became fast friends and remain so today. 

We recently traveled together for a few days and as we stayed in other people’s homes, our conversations often circled back to neighboring, hospitality and how we naturally share Jesus through these means. 

We’ve both been pretty intentional in sharing our homes and hearts with those in our lives. Karen recently  sold her family home (her husband passed away several years ago and her children are grown) and has taken to adventures on the road in her camper. She shared about one of the things she misses most not having a house: her neighbors.  

She’s found it difficult to engage in meaningful ways with others due to her nomadic lifestyle. She misses sharing a meal or a backyard barbecue with her friends, having a place to offer weary travelers respite and rest. Because her “love language” is acts of service, she is challenged to find new ways as a “traveler” to create a community where she can share her gifts of service with others. 

In comes the Turquoise Table! Many of you have heard us mention this movement. It’s basically challenging us to set up a table in our front yards and create an inviting space for our neighbors to stop and join us for a few minutes of conversation and community. While I know this doesn’t work for everyone, hopefully it will inspire a few of you to consider an opportunity that you can adapt to your situation. And that’s just what Karen has done. 

On her campsite, Karen has set a table with a turquoise tablecloth. She’s decorated it with some flowers and keeps a few coffee mugs ready should any of her neighbors mosey on over. She’s looking forward to having some games on hand and when she has time, a few baked goodies to share with her new friends. 

As she’s very new to this, she’s remembering to be open to God’s timing and His direction. She’s done the work to create a simple, inviting space. And now she’s excited to see how God rewards her efforts. She’s not discouraged when no one comes the first few days she's at a new campground. She’s realizing it takes time to develop connections.  

I pray that Karen’s openness to being a good neighbor wherever she is will encourage you to do the same. There are so many possibilities and opportunities to be creative in our neighboring endeavors. Spend some time in prayer and ask God what He might have in store for you and your family! 

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth; having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. Acts 17:26 

Michele Husfelt serves as a ministry assistant for NorthStar Church Network and heads up our Neighboring Initiative.

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