Befriending neighbors almost seems like a relic of the past as busy schedules, social media and entertainment fills up free time. Some Houston’s First members are intentional about forming relationships in their neighborhoods, creating opportunities to be a friend and extending an invitation to know Jesus.
“Our house is positioned conveniently so that people on the street gather to hang out in our driveway,” said Brandi Cabiro, a 10-year Sienna Plantation resident and member of Houston’s First. “Sometimes Mike and I set up a tent and everyone brings something to share. We’re constantly reaching out to fellowship with people in our neighborhood.”
Brandi and her husband Mike attended The Loop Campus when they were newlyweds and later directed a married young adult Life Bible Study before making the transition to a neighborhood church in Sienna Plantation, which became the Sienna Campus of Houston’s First in 2013. “We felt God calling us out to the neighborhood,” said Brandi. “Now there are about three or four families on the street who are strong Christians and are intentional about sharing the love of Christ.”
The Cabiros and other Houston’s First couples on their street, Tyler and Courtney Scott and Patrick and Megan Thompson, host Backyard Kids’ Club and other events that promote adult fellowship and introduce neighborhood children to Jesus.
Light the Night is a special gathering of families in neighborhoods throughout Houston on Oct 31. Church members host gatherings that include games, food and giveaways for the neighborhood. The party atmosphere opens the door to new and/or improved relationships with neighbors. Last year, Courtney and Tyler, who’s also the new director of Children’s Ministry at the Sienna Campus, purchased supplies to create games like a football throw with Hula-Hoops and other sports games for neighborhood kids.
“We do group trick-or-treating early and then gather with the adults later in the evening to socialize,” said Tyler. “We watch out for each other’s kids.”
Dan and Kristen Hilgart, residents of Towne Lake and members at the Cypress Campus of Houston’s First decided to reverse trick-or-treat the neighbors more than two years ago while their new house was under construction. “We went around the neighborhood and knocked on doors,” said Dan. “We brought candy and introduced ourselves. People invited us into their homes and we began building relationships before we even moved into the neighborhood.”
Though it may seem unnatural to strike up conversations with people on the street, Kristin and Dan have made friends that way. “A couple of relationships we built started very casually,” said Kristin. “We are intentional about meeting new people and having conversations to get to know them.” Kristin passes out flyers for book clubs, the neighborhood moms’ group, Backyard Kids’ Club, and MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) to bring neighbors together throughout the year.
When the Hilgarts’ neighbor across the street had brain surgery, Kristin left a note on the door to say she was praying for her. “She said it meant so much to her,” said Kristin. “We didn’t know each other well and it opened the door to have spiritual conversations and invite her to church — and she came. Everything turned out well with her health and they moved away, but when she left I know she was seeking God.”