As a child, I lived Denver, Colorado for several years. Bungalows and Tudor-style homes lined our block. Each home had a front porch and it wasn’t uncommon for neighbors to visit each other on cooler spring and summer evenings.
There were advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, we knew who our neighbors were. On the other hand, we knew who our neighbors were, and it wasn’t always pretty. Looking back, I marvel at the casual way conversations would start with a simple walk-up and how effortless it was to get to know a family, warts and all. Nobody was perfect.
The move to the suburbs of Dallas/Ft. Worth brought an end to those early front porch days and I don’t think I’ve ever known my neighbors the way I did then. Garage-doors instead of front porches dominated the landscape and my block today still seems to swallow up potential conversations each night. I admit I’ve let those doors swallow me up most nights as well.
Though I’m challenged to connect with my neighbors, there are still options for transparent community.
Some Christians don’t like this. Maybe they feel transparency is the fuel for other people’s gossip. Maybe they would rather look at other’s faults and judge them from the front porch of their heart.
Regardless, gathering like this is biblical and needed for maturing in Christ.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
One place where transparency exists is in my men’s LifeGroup. My church calls them LifeGroups, your church may call them small groups, community groups or something else. It’s a place where each person can share their imperfections while understanding to be more like Christ is the most worthwhile goal. Our group is made up of single, engaged and married men. The ages vary and we all admit we can learn from each other’s successes and mistakes and let scripture guide us toward spiritual maturity. We also know the call we have to share our faith with those who don’t know what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is.
I can’t say my block back in the day saw growing in Christ as the goal for our community. How great is it that we as Christians have a chance to gather like this and can encourage each other toward growing stronger in our faith as we endure life’s challenges and celebrate life’s rewards?
I have my own imperfections and I’m thankful for the mirror that looks back at me each week in the form of others who recognize their own imperfection and need for Christ.
If you have a front porch, use it well. If you don’t, take a shot at speaking with your neighbors. Invite them to hang out on your back porch if possible. Take a chance with a small group at your church. You never know when someone is going to need a transparent person in their life to remind them God is the only one who is perfect.