Updated: Jun 15, 2022
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ… Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (Ephesians 4:2-3, 5 NASB)
Last Sunday, nine Creeksiders—six adults and three rambunctious young boys (all related)—went prayer-walking in the neighborhood around Creekside’s property on 173rd. Pastor Mark advised us to conduct ourselves with wisdom as we headed out by saying, “Don’t cluster around the mailboxes.” In other words, don’t look sketchy.
Initially, Linda and I found ourselves discussing snippets of Creekside history with Pastor Tim as we strolled. Linda said, in essence, “Many of us don’t feel a strong natural connection to this neighborhood. We were very rooted in Education Hill, meeting at the junior high.” That’s also true of me. I could walk to church at the junior high, though I never did.
We spent a little over 30 minutes praying and walking. Once I left the Creekside grounds, I felt like an outsider, especially on the intimate cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets. I wondered, Am I intruding by walking by their houses? By praying for them?
It does seem a bit audacious to pray for blessings, freedom, healing, abundant life for people we don’t know and can only imagine living in these houses around us. But we are sent, as Jesus was sent, as outsiders to outsiders, with an audacious, scandalous, often foolish-seeming message of great goodness. Without seeing a single person’s face, without knowing a single person’s name, we can still pray the Lord’s prayer for them and ask every blessing in the heavens for them.
As we walked down the dead-end street just south of Creekside’s driveway, we noted that each house on the right side shared a fence-line with our property. What do they think about us, as their neighbors? We know some neighbors noticed us when we sought to house a shelter for women and children on the corner property. Others noticed us when we hosted a food truck during the summer of 2020.
What did we prayer-walkers notice? We saw older homes with mature trees and newer homes shining in the direct sun. We saw renovations and new construction in process. We saw daffodils and tulips, and tiny bicycles leaning up against a garage door.
Not a lot to go on, but it’s a beginning. More significant is God’s part. Like Paul, we prayed that God would “open up a door for the word, so that we may speak the mystery of Christ.”
And if God opens up the door, how will God’s word come to our neighbors? My heart’s desire is that many, many people will come to church or tune in and hear the word preached by our gifted pastors. God’s word is also made known through the words and acts of every Creeksider. Even we who rarely open our mouths are part of the “speech” of the church body. Not all are vocal cords, right? But all are members of Christ’s body, “being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part, caus[ing] the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
It really does seem worth a little audacity, mixed with wisdom, to bring a widening circle of our neighbors into this amazing, diverse, loving community of Jesus. With God opening the door, we may soon move from noticing the buildings and imagining the people, to noticing the people and imagining their joy in Jesus, and then noticing their joy in Jesus and imagining…