“Who is my neighbor?”
A Tic-Tac-Toe Evangelism strategy.
Remember the grid we used to draw for Tic-Tac-Toe before it became an app on our
smart phones? Or, if you are truly wired, think of the hashtag symbol: #. That can be a
great image for evangelism!
It works like this- using your home or apartment as the middle of the grid- who lives
immediately to your left? Your right? Across the street and to the right? Across the
street and left? Directly behind you? There are 8 families or singles that God has placed
right around you! As G.K. Chesterton said, “We make our friends; we make our
enemies; but God makes our neighbors!”
So, how can this be a strategy for evangelism? Simple- engage those 8 neighbors to
intentionally move from a wave to a handshake to an embrace!
A wave is knowing what kind of car they drive and what house or apartment they live in.
It’s generally being nice and civil- but not much deeper than that.
A handshake is actually going across the street or yard and saying “hello, I’m Mike- I
live next door. What’s your name? What’s your story? How long have you lived
here? Where are you from? Married? Kids?” As you know their name and their story,
your prayers for them become more focused and your heart to reach them with the
Gospel becomes more tender.
The next phase is to move from the handshake to the embrace. Go from information
about them to understanding their situation and developing a genuine relationship. This
isn’t easy but it’s invaluable! It may take several months or even years of unrequited
hospitality- having them over for dinner or game night, sending dinners over to them
when crises or needs arise, being there for them without expectation of them being
there for you- real life Good Samaritan stuff! (Luke 10:30-37) But press on! “Let us not
become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do
not give up.” (Gal. 6:9 NIV)
As you are praying for and serving your neighbors, and as the Lord is moving in their
hearts, be looking for those golden opportunities to boldly share the
Gospel! (Acts. 4:29 and Col. 4:5) And, when you do, realize that God prepared that
opportunity the day He placed them into your Tic-Tac-Toe grid (or hashtag)!
So, again as Chesterton said, “Evangelizing everyone is daunting. Evangelizing
someone is exhilarating!” God has given you at least 8 “someones” right outside your
(For more on this strategy see The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and The Gospel
Comes with a House Key by Rosario Butterfield.)