I remember when I was a child how the front porch was my favorite place to read while swinging in the porch swing. My mother would be out in her flower garden digging up weeds and my siblings playing in the front yard. And throughout the day, neighbors would stop by to chat, borrow flour or sugar, and bring over surplus vegetables from their gardens.
These warm memories always come back whenever I return to my parents’ home and step onto the front porch. This daily interaction with family and neighbors has sadly become quite non-existent in this age of all things technological.
Now we do less and less socializing with those living around us and more socializing with friends on Facebook or Twitter, paying little to no mind of people in our community. Long gone are the days when there were fewer distractions and the American people would take the time to sit on their front porches drinking iced tea or lemonade and enjoying “real” face-to-face interaction.
At one point in history, the front porch was a place to gather to tell stories, sing songs and encourage others. Today the front porch is little more than a place to decorate with each passing season. We may pull our car into our garage and enter our home through a side door, not even stepping foot on our front porch, let alone inviting others over to share the space.
The Bible can teach us much about the value of the front porch — the necessity of gathering with those around us and being integrated into our communities. Let us not forget the instruction found within the Word and remember that more than anything, the American front porch is in desperate need of revival.
1. Be welcoming.
“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:2).
Think of your front porch as your neighbors’ first impression before actually meeting you and your family. You want it to feel welcoming and you want to be welcoming. In previous times such as that of Little House on the Prairie, families traveled together and lived close to each other. Now with families stretched far out all over the US, neighbors become family.
So welcome your neighbors as you would welcome family. Offer drinks, food, etc., and make sure they are comfortable. The key is displaying hospitality. Always be open to sitting down on the front porch and chatting with your neighbors. Let us not be so busy with our lives that we forget to take the time to minister to others around us. Look at each time you talk with a neighbor as an opportunity to encourage and build others up.
2. Be observant.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Being observant certainly does not mean to be nosey or spy on your neighbors. Observe what your neighbors struggle with or need help with. If your neighbor is elderly and can’t make it down the driveway to pick up his newspaper, take it to him.
If your neighbor’s car battery is dead, offer to jump it. If you see an abundance of weeds in a neighbor’s flower bed, pick a few. If a natural disaster occurs such as a hurricane or tornado, be ready and available to clean up the damage.
These acts of kindness will create a bond between you and your neighbors and establish a relationship that yields many blessings. Being aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood allows you to help carry your neighbors’ burdens — and they can help carry yours’ as well.
3. Be giving.
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14).
Be giving to your neighbors. If they ask to borrow something, give them that and then some. If you grow a garden and have extra produce, share it with your neighbors. Take a gift over to them and even sit on their front porch. Always be thinking about what you can do to show neighborly love and encouragement. Give more than what is expected. Once again, you are creating a bond that will be so rewarding, knowing your neighbor is pleased and God is glorified. Always treat and love your neighbors as you would yourself.
4. Be a testimony.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Showing Christ’s love through your actions may be the most influential statement to your neighborhood. There are many ways to reach out. Organize a Bible study and meet on your front porch, or reach out to the children in the neighborhood to have an arts and crafts session. Bond with your neighbors over common interests.
Invite neighbors to church. Any kind of time spent with your neighbors is an excellent opportunity to share what God has done in the life of you and your family.
Always remember that you are a living testimony for Jesus, so be careful how you portray yourself in front of your neighbors, what you talk about, and how you react to situations in your life. Live life inside of your house as you would on your front porch with neighbors watching.
Next time you see your neighbor walking to check his mail just as you were about to do the same, do not hide inside, waiting until your neighbor goes back into his house. Sadly, sometimes we do not even feel like saying a simple “Hi, how are you?”
So welcome your neighbors into your home, observe their needs, supply them with encouragement, and minister to them. The front porch is the perfect place for all of this to happen. It is the gateway to what helps to make strong families and communities. Climb up your hill of excuses (busy life, electronics, selfish desires) and peak over into other valleys.
The first step is to step onto your front porch.
What are ways you have reconnected with neighbors? Share your thoughts in the section below: