put a bird(s) on it_portland, oregon
iso 400 | 24 mm | 0 ev | f/14 | 1/400
It’s hard not to think of Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch in the infamous SNL Hot Tub Lovers skit when talking about building relationships in a hot tub, but please leave that image behind as you read!
Emily and I have begun to build some great relationships with some of our neighbors here. The closest family is a single dad who takes his two young sons (7 and 8) on Wednesday nights and weekends. My brother-in-law, Eric, and I met them within the first couple of weeks of living here as they saw us playing XBOX and boldly invited themselves in to play. The relationship has developed over the months and just recently they and they’re father joined us for our St. Paddy’s party and for an MC meeting.
Most recently, the best place to meet new people has been at the community pool. We’ve met a few couples and their kids, a single man who seems to be the caretaker of the complex, as well as a handful of other people. The interesting thing is that it is SO easy to build relationships with them. There is something unique about living in a condo complex that creates immediate relationship. I think it has to do with the close proximity, the gate, and the shared space. It must be what it was like in villages before cars, entertainment, and computers. People gathering together in shared spaces to build relationships and talk of life.
As we’ve built relationships with these neighbors, spiritual conversations have been equally natural. One woman declared that she was a pagan and asked us what our backstory was. We spoke with a Jehovah’s witness for a half-hour about evil in this world, conspiracy theories (his, not ours), and the longing for the restoration of this world. We spoke with a mom who was visiting her kids and grandkids about her other daughter and son-in-law who were church planting in Seattle.
It would be nice to say that we’ve been intentional with these relationships, but really, they are a bi-product of living in such a community.
But, now that we have these relationships, we have a stewardship over them. We have a responsibility to share about the good news of Jesus Christ and the hope we have in Him. We now go to the hot tub as missionaries.
As followers of Jesus, we need to be looking for those gathering spaces around us. Are they the local coffee shop? The nearby park? Wherever yours is, we need to go to these places ready to engage the community, love them, listen to their stories, share our stories, and be ready to share the hope that we have (1 Peter 3.15).