When neighbours become good friends
By Sammy Jordan Project Lead Hope for Every Home
Do you have any guilty pleasures? Will you admit to any of them? Sammy shares one of her guilty pleasures, considering how neighbours become friends and what can help this process along.
I wonder if you have any guilty pleasures? You know…the things you really enjoy but don’t want to admit to in public. It’s confession time because I do. I like the TV programme, Neighbours. There, I’ve said it…in public! I remember watching it for the first time on a school trip. I lived in Manchester and this school trip was to the Ideal Home Exhibition in London, there and back in one day. On a long coach journey someone, who I’ve always assumed to be the driver, thought Neighbours was a good thing to watch on the coach TV to keep everyone quiet. The teenage me was hooked! The sunshine, suntans, storylines and somehow that even amidst the drama, everything was usually ok in the end. Just what this anxious and quiet (yes quiet) teenager needed to escape.
Since that coach trip I’ve watched Neighbours on and off over the years, but two maternity leaves reinforced the habit. Here’s another confession…as a mum who works full time and is a church leader, the other reason I like Neighbours is that by the time I’ve fast forwarded over the catch up, the adverts and the coming next, it’s less than twenty minutes. Perfect for the end of a busy day, even when I come in from a church meeting at 10pm! Neighbours, a cup of tea and some dark chocolate has restored my sanity before bed many a time. Imagine then my shock and sense of loss when I heard that it was ending this summer! What will I replace it with?
The theme tune to Neighbours talks about how, ‘good neighbours become good friends’; and how do we become good neighbours? With a, ‘friendly wave each morning’ to ‘make a better day’. By ‘getting to know each other’ as ‘with a little understanding you can find your perfect blend’. I wonder if that’s your experience of being a neighbour? Many of us barely know our neighbours as life is too busy to stop and wave, let alone get to know each other. Where we lived before, we knew our neighbours well enough to send Christmas cards, chat in the street or borrow a cup of sugar; but weeks, even months could go by with barely a , ‘Hello’. Then lockdown happened and changed this with doorstep clapping, shopping errands and socially distanced street parties at the end of driveways. Then we moved.
On the new estate where we live now, good neighbours have become good friends. How? I’ve been intentional about nurturing relationships. My family moved here to support community on the new estate as part of a church planting team. I left my job, we moved church and house. The house move was crucial as our call was to become part of the community we are here to love, serve and bless. We want to do mission with, not mission to or for because mutuality is important to us. We set out to get to know our neighbours, and for neighbours to eventually become friends. We listened, offered advice and tried to be good news on the neighbours Facebook group, hosted things on our driveway, set up the street WhatsApp and hosted the quiz nights, organised things for the community at harvest, Halloween, Christmas, Easter and even a lockdown driveway Olympics. We gave God what was in our hand and he has done the rest.
It’s such a privilege to be in a position where we are now trusted in our community. I was asked to chair the local community group the other week…by an atheist neighbour…and friend. It’s privilege to be in a position where we know so many people who come to us for various things, where we have the support of our neighbours and where those neighbours have indeed become good friends.
The trust people seem to have in us is not taken for granted, we treasure it. A few weeks ago we finally erected a prayer post box in our front garden (a delayed Christmas present). It felt like a bold and brave move. We have over 1000 people on our neighbours Facebook group and it is, as you might expect, a mix of good neighbours and grumpy ones…usually about bins! When we concreted the prayer box into the ground and posted about it on Facebook, it felt like I was cashing in on the credit of trust I’ve built up over 2 years. How would people react? I got some folk to pray… Amazingly over the next 2 hours I got 64 loves and likes and by the next day a whole load of positive comments too…phew! There was so much positivity that no one seems to have dared even so much as to use a grumpy emoji! For me it was an example of the benefits of slow, relational, mission with. I hope people reacted positively because they know me and the heart that the prayer box comes from and therefore they don’t feel threatened. The next project is the street Platinum Jubilee party which I am quite literally planning with two neighbours who have become my good friends…they must be as they’ve joined the community group to support me along with my atheist friend whose idea it was in the first place. I’m inviting people to ‘Pray as you Party’. If every street party leads to a prayer for the street it’s on imagine the impact on our vision to pray for the people in every street in the UK? You can even pin your prayers on the OIKOS prayer app which you can download here Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App
On 28th June HOPE Together and HOPE for Every Home are launching a new missional learning community, ‘Talking Mission With’. This is for anyone who is passionate about joining in with the work of God in their community. For mission enthusiasts who are rooted in the ‘little and local’, watching for and ushering in the hopeful signs of the kingdom of God in neighbourhoods and noticing when God does something out of the ordinary. It’s a place to connect with like-minded people, to share stories and mutual inspiration. We will meet for a quarterly lunchtime webinar with some input and plenty of time to process and apply it to our contexts together. ‘Talking Mission With’ is in and of itself ‘with’ and not ‘to’ or ‘for’. The aim is for the community to shape it as we evolve and grow together. If you would like to know more drop me a line Sammy.firstname.lastname@example.org and look out for more details via the HOPE Facebook page or sign up here https://forms.gle/SRnytrJT1hiuw4Ze8
If like me, as part of your mission with, you often have conversations with friends and neighbours who don’t yet know Jesus remember there’s still the latest HOPE for All magazine to offer, which picks up on the Platinum Jubilee but then looks to the summer beyond with a Wimbledon teaser on the cover in the form of Emma Raducanu. It offers a great mix of celebrity features, articles and prizes. HOPE shop : Hope for All Magazine 2022 (hopetogether.org.uk)