Love your neighbour: Three ways to serve your local community

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Jesus commands us to love God first and to love our neighbours as ourselves. He says no other commandment is more important, and that all others can be summed up by these two. A "neighbour" doesn't have to be someone that physically lives in your neighbourhood, but it's not a bad place to start.

In Acts 2, the picture of church is one of close community – so close that they would pool their resources and share their things. While this is not what all communities have to look like, it does provide a paradigm to look to and work towards.

As Christians, how are we proactively looking to serve the communities we find ourselves in? Here are three practical ways that might bring the Acts 2 ideal a little closer to reality:

1. Get down to your local community centre

Community centres are often the hub of local goings-on. They might not be the most glamorous places, but you're sure to find ways to both serve and get to know other locals. Often with a full schedule of classes and activities, you could offer to teach – or learn – a skill, and in the meantime meet people who might live down your road. They are also a great starting point for other more specific services you might like to use or volunteer with.

2. Get to know people

Community requires commitment. Don't just sleep in your flat and spend the rest of your time elsewhere, intentionally choose to spend time in the area you live. Go to the local shop, have a coffee in the local cafe, knock on a neighbour's door. It might seem a bit basic, but it works. If a more structured way of getting to know your neighbours is more up your street, then there are plenty of local befriending services, where you can volunteer to hang out with older or more vulnerable members in your neighbourhood.

3. Advocate for people

Get involved in community organising – work with local people to advocate for and create social and political change through collective action. There are community organisers all over the UK and their aim is to find out what is needed and wanted in a local community, build relationships and create effective action to shift power and enable social change. Get involved and you can collaboratively make a difference in your local political and social environment.

Christianity is a practical faith. We are commanded to love our neighbours, and that looks like something. Serving our local community – outside of our Christian communities – is key to bringing the Kingdom of God as it can help reveal glimpses of God's love to people who don't know him.

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