For the past two and a half years, I have worked at a neighborhood restaurant, serving the food and beverage industry in our beloved city. Through this process one thing has been made clear to me: The relationship between a server, barista, or bartender and regular patrons is a unique and powerful bond. Nothing improves a rough shift quite like a familiar face, a friend who can be counted on for a good story, laughter, patience, and a tip. I have had the opportunity to become friends with people in life stages and industries that I would have never encountered or known had they not frequented my workplace. Through these relationships, I have been able to share my faith, the vision of Sojourn, and personal interests. I have seen regulars join my Neighborhood Parish and begin experiencing God’s grace through gospel community.
At Sojourn, our vision for making disciples is simple. We take a long-term and low-key approach toward building relationships. We expose those relationships to God’s grace through the covenant community. And we share the explicit gospel of Jesus Christ in Jesus. All three aspects of this disciple-making strategy are important, but for the purposes of this post, I want to focus on building long-term, low-key relationships.
Building relationships can be difficult, especially when relationships are new. And we multiply that difficulty when we wait around hoping that new friendships will grow naturally and organically. The Spirit longs to produce gospel fruit through our faithful efforts. So this is my challenge to you: Be a regular. Whatever it is you like to eat or drink, there is likely an establishment in your neighborhood that does that well, so commit to the people who work there. Learn their stories, tell them yours, and offer smiles and generous tips. These relationships don’t happen accidentally or overnight, but we are a family of neighborhood churches, so at the very least we should be good neighbors. Let’s love our neighborhoods by loving our neighbors until they all know the grace of God to and through His covenant people. As we build relationships, expose those relationships to Christian community, and share the gospel, baristas and servers will become brothers and sisters.