Perhaps my biggest takeaway from his experience in gospel neighboring was this:
Gospel neighboring means you serve your neighbors without expecting anything in return. Otherwise it’s not gospel neighboring (“good news neighboring”), it’s manipulation.
Seth has a lot more experience at this than I do. And he has lots of experience with the un-sought, unmanipulated, surprising, God-given blessings his neighbors have turned around and shown him.
But I’ve had a little experience this week that kind of blew my mind.
Being the stereotypical over-caffienated coffee shop-squatting church planter that I am, I was overjoyed to discover that Nova*s Bakery & Coffee Shop was setting up shop a stone’s throw from my house. We peered into the windows to watch the transformation of an old bank building (that had most recently been an ambulance transport service) into my new hang out.
I was up at 1:30a early Tuesday when I saw Nova*s Facebook notice. They were opening for the first time just 4 hours later. I decided to be there when they opened. To be the first customer. To celebrate their arrival in the neighborhood with them.
I was not in a very celebratory or neighborly mood when my alarm went off at 5.30a. I very nearly decided to scrap my hastily laid plans and wake up at a more reasonable hour. But I scheduled a nap on my iCal and dragged myself over to Nova*s.
Josh and Morgan were trying to make sense of a dozen boxes of just-delivered fresh baked goods and a dozen more containers of cups and lids and straws. They served me coffee and a ‘glorious morning’ muffin. I plopped down on the sofa in a comatose state with a book for an hour, and then headed home.
When I came back at 10a for a meeting with a friend from Hill City Church, Josh introduced me to the owner, Vlado Novakovic. Josh enthusiastically told him that I was the first customer at 6a, that I had posted about Nova*s opening on Facebook, and that half the customers that morning had been people in my church.
Josh was instructed to do this:
Now, I’m sure I’ll eat my own weight in full-price scones and danishes during the next 365 caffeinated days. Vlado knows that. And he knows the power of social marketing.
Preaching to the Preacher
But he also knows the power of gospel neighboring. He did not make any demands on me. He did not make the caveat that I got free coffee *with the purchase* of a baked good. He did not limit the number of times I could come in during a given day. Or the number of liters of locally-roasted coffee I was permitted to consume in one sitting.
He simply granted me free coffee for a year.
I thought that I was being the ‘gospel neighbor’ to my new neighbors at Nova*s, as I reluctantly but purposefully dragged myself out of bed Tuesday morning before dawn. But they gave me and you both a better lesson in gospel neighboring than I could ever deliver.
Gospel neighboring is serving your neighbors without expecting anything in return.
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