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Why and How to Reach Your Neighborhood: Chris & Elizabeth McKinney

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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May 6, 2024 5:15 am

Why and How to Reach Your Neighborhood: Chris & Elizabeth McKinney

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 6, 2024 5:15 am

Imagine a neighborhood where everyone's connected, solving problems together, and showing kindness breaks down walls. Chris and Elizabeth McKinney think the beatitudes are the key to making neighborhoods thrive. Learn how to be good neighbors, build relationships, and connect with your community in unmissable ways.

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Connect with Chris and Elizabeth McKinney and catch more of their thoughts at, and on Instagram @mcwifey or X @crmckinney

And grab Chris and Elizabeth McKinney's book, Neighborhoods Reimagined in our shop.

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Sometimes people come to neighboring with this guilt-based mentality. They're like, man, I should stop making excuses and get to know my neighbors. It's okay to make excuses. Actually, that's exactly what we need. We need an excuse.

And holidays, a lot of times, are that excuse. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at This is Family Life Today. So I was gonna sing a song right now, but I have no voice because I have a cold. But the song is very familiar. Okay.

And you finish it. Oh, I don't know. Do I know it? Like a good neighbor.

State Farm is there. See, you can sing. I'll play it. You sing it.

Yeah, of course. Everybody knows that jingle. And in our neighborhood, we lived on a cul-de-sac. Our neighbor was a State Farm rep, Nick and his wife, Pam. And Nick is with the Lord now, but we're going to talk about neighbors today. That's my intro. I think that's so funny. Here's a bad intro. State Farm is there. Well, I mean, when I thought of this book, Neighborhoods Reimagined, good neighbors. I mean, maybe we're doing an ad for State Farm.

I don't know, but I don't think so. We got Chris and Elizabeth McKinney with us. And you guys wrote this book. You even recorded it right here in our studio. That's right. And you're back with us because you've been with us before.

Yes. A few years ago, we were with you guys talking about our first neighboring book, Place for a Purpose. And that was kind of everything we wished we would have known when we started Neighboring. And this is kind of a book on helping you continue to neighbor and continue to put yourself out there. Neighboring. You're neighboring.

What does that mean? That's exactly what we were asked when we first started that we are still trying to figure out. But it's basically our hope is to show and share the love of Jesus to our next door neighbors. So people with whom we share proximity. So we can think about loving our neighbor in a general sense and keep it in the abstract and neighboring the practice of loving the people who live right around you takes loving your neighbor out of the abstract and puts it right into practice with the people that live right around us. That's so convicting.

It feels like in Michigan too, if you're in a cold climate, the garage door goes up, the garage door goes down and we don't see our neighbors until the spring. For months and months and all the kids have grown. But when the kids were little, that was easier. So it's good to talk about this because biblically speaking, this is important. Jesus talked about it.

Yeah. I think when Jesus says, you know, love your neighbor as yourself, it can obviously mean more than your next door neighbor, but I don't think it can ever mean less. Like if we're going to say, I want to love my neighbor, our next door neighbors have to be included in that sentence. Isn't this convicting? Well, and if you want to make it even more convicting, now we're going to start talking about the beatitudes. And Chris brought up initially, he wanted to write a book on the beatitudes.

And I told him he was crazy. I was like, we can't write a book on the beatitudes. This reads like a foreign language. I don't want to be poor or persecuted or meek. These are words I'd rather avoid than write a book about.

Most people in the world would like to avoid those words. So why the beatitudes? Yeah. So I had an uphill battle convincing her that we should write a book on the beatitudes and neighboring. But a few years ago, I was spending time in the book of Matthew and was just really, again, drawn to the sermon on the Mount. And I found myself just kind of skimming over those first eight statements of Jesus, kind of like, okay, blessed if you're poor in spirit. Okay. God's going to bless me if I'm mourning.

And so I was like, okay, I need to figure out what's going on here. And through a couple of resources, one being Dr. Pennington, Jonathan Pennington's book called the sermon on the mountain human flourishing. I began to realize that that blessed statement, we're not being poor in spirit. We're not depending on God to be blessed, right? We have all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. This is more of an invitation of Jesus into a life of flourishing. And so we are invited to live this way. And Jesus promises that it'll bring flourishing to our lives and also to the lives of others around us. But what's hard is that these are so upside down, so different than what the world would say will bring flourishing.

So being dependent, mourning. Maybe we should read it just to hit those. Yeah, absolutely. Let's do that. Yeah. And even before we get there, I'd love to ask you, are you guys, have you always been like good neighbors?

Is this like part of your MO? Cause we just said, we're not very good. We have a cul-de-sac, not a whole street. Yeah. And I'm telling you, Ann's underestimate. She's a great neighbor.

Sure. She's great. Oh, she's every time I look out, she's, you know, talking to Pam and every time I get the snow blower out, she's like, go do theirs and go do theirs.

Cause that's what her mom and dad did. So I think she's better than I am, but I would say I'm not naturally really a good neighbor. Are you guys? Well, I would say we came to neighboring in a place of need. We were in one of the most stressful seasons of our lives. We had four young kids.

We had four kids in five years. So I was pulling my hair out. I was just trying to string a sentence together. And so it was the needing the proverbial cup of sugar, but it was more than that. It was if I'm going to have any sense of community, if I have to drive across town to get that, it's not going to happen because I might as well be going overseas.

The kids are going to have to get, it's nap time by the time I get there. And so I needed people right around me and we kind of had this sense that our neighbors, so why not the neighbors? Why not these people? And we had a real heart for connecting with people from different worldviews and the unchurched. And at that point in our lives, we were connecting with a lot of college students.

And so our neighbors to have relationships with people that were more peers in the same life stage was really enriching. So did you guys like walk across the, the yard? I mean, how did this start? Yeah. So we started with a fish fry.

Yeah. We got to know a couple of the neighbors right next to us. Bingo was like seven feet tall.

He played basketball at the university of Missouri there where we live in Columbia, Missouri. Bingo Bingenheimer. And he loved to fry things. So he brought his fryer down to our driveway and we're wannabe foodies.

And so we did a fish fry and we made all these sauces and that was kind of fun. And then we did an Easter egg hunt. And so then small beginnings. Small beginnings.

Do not despise the day of small beginnings. That's right. Yeah. And the Easter egg hunt, eight kids were there. Four of them were ours, but it was at that Easter egg hunt. We met Nathan and Kathy and they went to a different church and they were like, well, what's next?

And we're like, we haven't thought past the Easter egg hunt. We're not trying to. We're just trying to make friends. Yeah.

We're not trying to start something here. And they said, let's do a bigger kind of street party or block party. And on the outside, we're like, sure, let's do it. But on the inside, I was like, do you see the neighborhood we live in? Like everyone is independent.

It's super isolated. No one even trick or treated in our neighborhood. Like the first time we came out for Halloween, it was a ghost town. Like no one was there.

Pun intended. And so, but we did it and we got the word out and there was like 75 adults and kids that came to that first little block party. And that's when we began to realize, Oh, okay. So on the outside, everyone is kind of acting like they're fine.

I just want to pull into my garage, but on the inside, they want to be connected. They want to be connected to a larger community. And we need these excuses because it's awkward to get to know our neighbors.

So we just started going after that and the relationships and spiritual conversations that we got to have over the last 12, 13 years have just been incredible. I mean, what does that say about the human heart that you just identified? Like we act like we want to be isolated.

Yep. COVID isolated us in some ways. Do you think that's a part of it? Cause you're, you're finding out we don't really want to be isolated.

Church people, non-church people doesn't matter. They are looking for community. Is that what you're finding? We don't like to be needy. And the very first beatitude is blessed are the poor in spirit. You call them spiritual zeros. That's right. We don't want to be spiritual zeros. That's your chapter title, which got me interested.

I'm like, what's a spiritual zero. I don't want to be that. Right.

Yeah. But we are, we want to act like we're fine. We don't want to be dependent or interdependent. And yet that's how we've been designed.

We've been designed to be dependent on the father and each other. Matthew five, one seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain. And when he sat down, his disciples came to him and he opened his mouth and taught them saying, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And then I was going to circle back to this earlier, but just after these verses, we left off in verse 11 in verse 13 is the familiar and beloved salt and light passage that says you're the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall saltiness be restored?

It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand. And it gives light to all in the house in the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who's in heaven. So Chris was saying he had an uphill battle convincing me to write a book on the Beatitudes because I thought we're going to be out over our skis trying to write a book about something we can't understand, let alone apply. But it was reading this section on being salt and light.

I thought I want to be salt and light. I want my neighbors to see our good deeds and glorify our father in heaven. Maybe I need to back up and see what some of these postures and invitations are and try to understand them. I don't know when it was, but it was years ago, decades ago, Matthew 5 14, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. I studied it in the Greek and you know, because I'm a Greek scholar, that's what I am.

You are, hun. No, I was preaching on it, I think. So I'm studying the passage and the word set on a hill literally means strategically placed on a hill. You know, even when I've preached this many times over the years, because when we do our vertical marriage weekends, we talk about this, people look at me like, so what's the big deal?

Set on a hill strategically placed. That actual meaning changes everything. It means that where you live, in a sense, God has strategically placed you.

Us in a cul-de-sac, you were in the Uber car I'm with, it's a different perspective. It's like, it lifts your eyes to go. And again, I'm not saying we don't make decisions every day. You know, it isn't like God's, you know, literally got a little thing and pointing this around, but in a sense, it sort of is. It's like, I didn't just put you in this job or in this neighborhood or on this campus. I'm like literally strategically placing you for what?

To shine. So that's what you're saying, right? As you look at that, it's like, oh my goodness, where we live is not just random.

God wants us to be salt and light. Yeah. We say your address is not an accident and neither is your neighbors. And I think if you believe that and you walk out your front door, knowing that God was working behind the scenes to kind of place your neighbors there and place you where you are at, then that changes everything. That means something's going on and he's at work and he wants to use you in your neighbor's life.

And he wants to use your neighbors in your life too. Yeah. I like that. It's both ways. We're not just doing it because they're our project. Exactly.

We want to become friends with our neighbor because we all need that. Yes. I like that. Well, take us back to being spiritual zeros.

Yeah. I mean, you, you write the false beatitude is blessed are the self-assured. They will retire early with spiritual independence. We're talking about retirement and we're in Orlando. That's their goal in life.

So what'd you discover? None of us want to be poor. We want to be self-confident. We want to be independent, self-assured and what Jesus is calling us to right off the bat is complete and utter dependence on him for everything. And you see Jesus model this in John through, we call the nothing versus Jesus says, I don't do anything on my own. I don't speak my own words. I came to accomplish the father's will. We don't want to be spiritually independent. We think maybe that's the goal. Like the more mature we get, the more we can handle things on our own.

But Jesus is saying, no, no, no. I want people who are growing in their dependence on me. And if you think about trying to get to know your neighbors, trying to break through that awkwardness in the cultural story that says to be a good neighbor means to leave your next door neighbor alone. If you're not dependent on God for like, Lord help. I've been living next door to this neighbor for three years.

I've never introduced myself. This is scary. We cannot do that out of our own strength. So tell the story about Lord help.

Yeah. So we had a friend who was a nanny and they told her that when their daughter is struggling with something. So like, let's take, taking the square peg and trying to put it in the round shape, shape sorters to not jump in and help immediately, but wait until she asks for help because we want her to know that it's okay to ask for help and receive it. And so as we think about this first beatitude, a little prayer that we say just to try to embrace this attitude of dependence is Lord help. So as I'm walking over to a neighbor that, you know, maybe it's hard to get along with Lord help. And immediately I'm saying, Lord, I need you. I need you to work.

I can't do anything without you, without you showing up, nothing is going to happen instead of saying, Oh, I've got it all together. You know, as long as I'm eloquent enough and I'm slick enough and I have the right invitation to church, they're going to come with me. Like, that's not what Jesus is calling us to there. Yeah. It's interesting to think.

I remember in seminary, we were studying the woman at the well passage. Yep. And one of the applications our professor made was if you want to get to know your neighbors, ask them for something.

Oh yeah. Ask to borrow something. Ask for help. And I was like the opposite, like, no, no, no, you don't want to, you want them to ask you for something.

And he's like, Jesus started that conversation by saying he wanted a drink. Yes. And so I remember this was decades ago.

It was like, okay, so if I'm doing a project at my house and I know somebody in the neighborhood has got a tool I need, it's going to start a relationship just to go over and say, Hey, could I borrow your a saw? Oh yeah. I've done that everywhere we've gone. I do it now in Orlando, the guy behind us named Tom, dude, this guy saved our life. And you can tell when you ask him for something, he's excited to be needed.

That's right. Did he really save your life? Well, we needed the pool heated and the heater broke and the grandkids are coming. And he's like, it's a capacitor. I guarantee it.

I'm not an AC guy, but here I have an extra one in my garage at all times. Boom. And every time I call him, he's got the tool and not even just tools, but just advice and for help, right? Like expertise, expertise. Like we have friends who are therapists and our neighbors, and we don't share the same overall worldview, but some of their thoughts on things that we're going through have been really helpful. And it's just such a fun connect point to be like, could you give us some advice here?

You know, free counseling by the mailbox. And then what happens when they're standing there? Cause you know, when Tom comes over or bingo, bingo, you know, something sort of starts happening, right?

Cause you don't just stand there and do your job. You end up saying, I'm like, Tom said to me, so what do you guys do? Yep. You know, you're from Michigan.

Now you're in Orlando. What? That's when the relationship goes from being an acquaintance to a friend, a neighbor, and then hopefully eventually they'd become your brother or sister in Christ someday. But you can't just jump into those kinds of weighty conversations. They come through relationships, a mutual benefit where we're receiving. And that shifts the power dynamics from us coming in as the Christian.

Who's always the giver and never the receiver. And people sniff that out. Like you said, you were saying earlier and that we don't want people to be projects and we don't want to be projects.

It's in those natural conversations where you can self identify as a Christian. You don't have to fly under the radar. You can start sharing. Yeah, this is my job. Or our kids just did vacation Bible school and it was a lot of fun and see, Hey, do they want to know more? And if they do, you can continue on. Or if they don't, then you know, okay, that's where they're at. That's okay.

Right. I'll bring up something another time, but it's in those natural conversations. Um, when you can do those things, I mean, do you, uh, utilize holidays? Like you said, Halloween, Easter, Christmas.

Do you do things with those? Cause you know, there's some people that think, Oh, I'm not going to do anything with Halloween. It's evil.

You know, it's a bad, bad holiday. And there's others like, what an opportunity. You got your whole neighborhood coming to your front door. So talk about that a little bit. Sometimes people come to neighboring with this guilt based mentality. They're like, man, I should, I should stop making excuses and get to know my neighbors. This is Dave and I, because we have a new neighbor on our cul-de-sac and we just, we haven't been home very much, but we feel that guilt. Yep. Oh, I'm feeling. And we say, it's okay to make excuses.

Actually. That's exactly what we need. We need an excuse and holidays.

A lot of times are that excuse. We, we like to do the Easter egg hunts and I will say, you do them right at your house. Well, we used to, we, we, it outgrew too many that grew us. Um, we had to shift to the school, but yeah, it used to be in our, in our backyard and those were really fun days, but you do hot sauce nights. Yeah. Hot wings like super hot sauce. Yeah.

So if you've ever seen a good neighbor, yeah. Yeah. There's a YouTube show called hot ones where the host, so I've purchased the sauces and I have a big Turkey fryer, bingo disciple me well. And so I'll fry 150 wings. Cause it's 10 per guy and we'll meet and 15 guys and we'll put 10 wings into the thing and you saw some, and then you hand them out to each guy and then we'll all try them together and I'll do tasting notes. And then we'll all go from one all the way up to 10. It's been awesome. One of the best neighboring events for just the guys that I mean, if I've ever done, I say I'm not going past five.

Absolutely. So it's not high pressure, but everybody ends up going all the way and I'm not pressuring. I'm like, you can stop whenever you want, but it's this source of camaraderie and we're in it together. We're marching up the hill together. So yeah, we, we make use of all those opportunities and Halloween. Like we said, when we first came out of our front door, no one was trick or treating.

And eventually we were like, this is not right. Like once we had some momentum with some of the neighboring stuff, we were like, we need to change this because what an incredible opportunity to get to know your neighbors, to have neighbors work together, to pull off. We do a little hot dog stations or hot chocolate stations and we encourage everybody to sit outside by a fire pit to hand out candy. And it's one of our favorite nights of the whole year in our neighborhood.

Literally the neighborhood comes alive. How has this impacted your kids? You know, because you have four daughters and they're from middle school down to elementary.

So you've been probably doing it since they were little. What's that been like for them? So we were in the campus ministry and we loved having college kids in our home and the girls loved being around the college kids. But when we switched to neighboring, it opened up a way for them to see mission in a whole new way because it wasn't something far off.

We love mission strips, but at the same time, if we only think missions is something far off and that we have to travel overseas to do, we kind of disconnect from the people who are right around us and the opportunities that are there. And so with our kids, they've been involved from day one because they've been praying for neighbors to come to know the Lord. They have to kind of learn when to take a risk or when to pull back and have seen friends start to come to church.

We recently read a book called The Great Decherching. And one of the things we learned in that book is that there's those who de-church casually and then there's those that are de-churching casualties. And the number one reason why people are de-churching is because they've moved.

They're just casually de-churching thinking we'll come back, but then they don't. And so the takeaway for us from that book was just invite, especially if it's a new neighbor. And so our kids have been asking their neighbors to come to church and have started to see some neighbors come with them. And that's formative for them to get to see God use them in these little fourth graders lives. And then the parents come. Yeah. And as I hear you say that, I know this because we have older kids. They're going to do this.

When they're adults, they've grown up in a home that does this. You know this, but you're given a vision for how everybody's supposed to live. Anne and I always say, make a dent where you're sent and where your scent is where you are. You guys are living out what God calls us to do.

And so we want to help you shine right where you live because God wants you to make a dent where you're sent. So guess what we're going to do? We're going to give the McKinney's book to you for free, but not really because we'd like you to give a monthly donation. Become a monthly partner and your donation will be doubled for the year, which is awesome. But we're going to send you this book as our gift back to you for giving a gift to us. And this will help you do what we're talking about. Make a dent where you're sent. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Chris and Elizabeth McKinney on Family Life Today. Well, as Dave and Anne were saying, this is going to be our gift to you when you give monthly. So how do you do that? You just simply go online to and then you can click on the donate now button at the top of the page, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329.

Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And if you wanted to hear more from the McKinney's, they actually have a podcast called Placed for Purpose, helping you love your neighbors well and engage in your neighborhood. So you can find that podcast anywhere you get your podcasts. Again, it's called Placed for Purpose, or you could check out the link in the show notes today at And again, you can become a monthly partner and have your gift matched dollar for dollar up to $500,000 by giving today at So we talked a lot about neighboring today, and a lot of people like me, for example, love the practicalities of figuring out how to do that. So what are some practical ways to impact your community, redefine neighboring, and embrace what Jesus communicated and the Beatitudes right there in your neighborhood? Well, tomorrow, Chris and Elizabeth McKinney are back with the Wilsons to talk about just that. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-06 06:07:40 / 2024-05-06 06:18:48 / 11

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