Bless Every Home
The scribes asked Jesus which was the first commandment of all. He answered them in Matthew 22:37–40, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (NKJV).
So, Jesus gives us the two most important commandments and sets them in priority:
1. Love God
2. Love Your Neighbor
Notice, the greatest and second greatest commandments are not inwardly focused. They have nothing to do with me or my needs or making myself happy or reaching my personal goals and aspirations; rather, the top two commandments of Jesus focus on my relationship with God and others.
Recent research reveals that we do not know our neighbors and cannot even call them by name, much less love them as ourselves as Jesus commands.
At our 2018 Annual Homecoming held at LibertyLive.Church in Hampton, VA, the SBC of Virginia introduced Bless Every Home, a brand-new initiative designed to help churches and plants reach their communities with the Gospel. Through an interactive website, church members are given an opportunity to be lights to their neighbors. By utilizing the latest demographic information, a church member can choose to receive daily prayer reminders for five families by name—families who live near them. When the church member reports praying for those neighbors, the map on the website map show shading that there is prayer coverage of the area. The strategy does not stop with prayer, however; it resources “lights” (church members who register to participate in Bless Every Home) to ably care for their neighbors, share the Gospel with them, and disciple them for a life journey of faith.
Two churches in the city of Colonial Heights have enthusiastically embraced this initiative: The Heights Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. Two different congregations in the same city and with the same mission have enthusiastically chosen Bless Every Home as their strategy to obey Jesus’ command.
These churches’ senior pastors (Randy Hahn at The Heights and Joey Anthony at Mount Pleasant) took some time to answer a few questions about their churches’ experiences with Bless Every Home.
What drew you to the Bless Every Home (BEH) initiative?
Hahn: We want to touch every bit of our area code (804) with the ministry, the Gospel, the goodness of God. When I saw BEH, it fit our vision to get to every part of 804, but also because this is something everyone in our church can do. Everyone can feel like they are a part of contributing to the vision of our church.
Anthony: We are constantly reminding our people at Mount Pleasant to “Meet people where they are and point them to Jesus.” We must be willing to do that in our own neighborhoods, and there is no better way to get started than to pray for our neighbors!
What are some of the advantages of this tool?
Hahn: Everyone can do it—everyone can tailor it to his/her own comfort level, skills, abilities, time, and availability. It makes it real to see the map where God has placed me and to be able to see the names of the people all around me. It makes me want to be a faithful steward of the street God has me on.
Anthony: Anyone and everyone can participate. Taking the first step of praying for your neighbor begins a process of actually thinking about your neighbors. In today’s culture, we tend to isolate ourselves and become very comfortable going into our homes, shutting the door, and living inside our “bubble.” This tool helps us to see our neighbors as people…people just like us…people who need Jesus too.
What is your strategy in launching the initiative?
Hahn: We actually introduced it through a two-message Christmas series. We let people sign up and run with it for a couple of months in a soft launch, and then we relaunched it at the end of February when I preached a vision message. We will help every person sign up and see they can do this.
Anthony: I introduced it during a sermon where we talked about Jesus being the Light and how we are to reflect that light in our words and actions. I will also be preaching a series from the Gospel of John called, “Only Jesus: Seeing the Savior in a Selfie World.” Instead of being so preoccupied with ourselves, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus and point others to Him. We will be reminding our people to take the initiative to pray and then love on their neighbors, meet them where they are, and point them to Jesus. We also showed a video to introduce BEH then shared a step-by-step tutorial on social media.
How are you encouraging and enlisting people
to be lights in their community?
Hahn: Being a light in the community is how every person fulfills the vision of our church, and now we are showing them BEH is a tool for every single one of us.
Anthony: We are using bulletin inserts, announcements, and social media to enlist people to participate.
Do you have any Bless Every Home stories?
Hahn: Our staff started utilizing BEH in October and adopted nearly 500 homes. In three weeks of our soft launch, our church adopted over 5,000 homes. People started using the tool right away.
Anthony: We have just started using the tool, but we already see evidence of this working through our fire prevention ministry with the local fire departments. Not only can we pray for the people in their homes, but we can also care for them by helping protect them. One life has already been saved by one of our installed detectors. Now we can take the next steps in telling them that salvation comes from Jesus.
While this is an evangelism strategy tool, how do you see it benefiting other ministries in the life of the church?
Hahn: It just starts to make everything real. Why we evangelize, why we disciple, the reputation of a church in the community—all of that becomes personal when you are trying to pray, care, share, and disciple on your street.
Anthony: As with all evangelistic tools, it enables the people of God to step out of their comfort zones, look beyond themselves, and point others to Jesus. Once folks begin to do that, hopefully, a fresh wind will blow on the believer and it will affect their praying, serving, giving, and going…
God has strategically called these pastors to serve different churches in the same city to accomplish the same mission—to help their congregations love God and love their neighbors as themselves. The same FREE, interactive tool is being used by the Lord to prompt people to pray, care, share, and disciple their neighbors.
For more information about Bless Every Home or to learn how to sign up to be a light or register your congregation as a partnering church, visit sbcv.org/blesseveryhome.