These days I have two addresses: my street address and my email address. One
place has a front porch with a weathered white swing. The other has a dot and a
com but no doorbell.
One receives mail in a wooden box with a red flag and purple clematis that
shows up every spring. The other receives mail on a blinking 17-inch
I enjoy the sound of footsteps approaching our front door. It could be the
kid from down the street, or maybe the postman, whistling and toting a package
too big for the mailbox.
Oh, dont get me wrong. All the things that are tangible and sentimental
about my home address have equal footing in my netherworld address. What, after
all, could be more convenient than email? You dont have to scrounge for a stamp
and an envelope.
On my computer theres the zippy delivery of a message at the click of a
mouse. Messages from friends in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North
Carolina. These friends appear on my cyber doorstep daily with news, anecdotes
and photos of the kids.
And then theres the Internet! Travel, shopping, education. Yet with all its
bells and whistles, my computer will never replace the smell and texture of an
encyclopedia. Which is exactly why there are 30 volumes of The American
Peoples Encyclopedia standing at attention on the middle two shelves of
the bookcase. Yes, I knowmy daughters can easily hop on a search engine and
view the habits of the flightless bird from Australia, the emu. Call me old
fashioned, but I want them to be able to look it up under E in a musty volume
in the fading light of late afternoon.
Its this yearning for high touch that also compels me to abandon
globe-hopping for a spell and bake real cookies to take to my neighbor.
We all long for high touch in a high-tech world. High-tech devices, intended
for streamlined communication, actually isolate us from one another.
Multi-tasking mania is keeping us from the person most accessible: the neighbor
who is lonely, the friend who needs the texture and warmth of a real voice.
This is high touch in a high-tech world. We need to offer it to others
If Im answering emailed prayer requests from across the universe, the least
I can do is take a short walk across the street to see if my neighbor needs
I am resigned to this millennial citizenshipa quirky double identity with a
street address and a floating one somewhere out there in cyber-space.
Both keep me connected.
But sometime down the road, when my children come to visit me in my old age,
I think well best remember the address with the front porch. The one with the
creaky swing thats badly in need of an oiling and a new coat of white
Kathy Joy Hoffner is a writer and
radio host living in Littleton, Colorado.
Eight high-touch ways to be on mission
1. Create an old-fashioned care package and take it to your
neighbor. Include homemade cookies or a pie, and gather a bouquet of fresh-cut
flowers from your garden. Take some twine and attach a humorous note: I could
have gone online and wired you the perfect bouquet; instead I grabbed the
clippers and walked out back! Include a handwritten invitation to your church
including times for worship and Sunday school. Let them know about your
nursery. Have a child deliver this care package. This winsome touch will surely
reach the heart and lessen any feelings of isolation.
2. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves or shovel snow for your
neighbor. Leave a note: I wanted to make a difference in your yard because of
the difference Jesus has made in my life. Lets talk about Him sometime. Follow
up with a meal or coffee together. You may be surprised at how this
unexpected act of kindness will break the ice and
begin a meaningful dialogue.
3. Offer to sit with the kids while Mom takes a break. Tell
her about programs at your church designed for moms and children. Leave a
printed list: Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), Vacation Bible School, Backyard
Bible Clubs, Sunday school, etc. Offer to carpool. As you show an interest,
this Mom will know she has a friend, and parent networking can begin!
4. If youre at home during the day, host a coffee.
Invitations can be hand-delivered to the doors, or a friendly phone call will
do. As your neighbors get settled, make an announcement: Welcome to my home.
Please help yourself to the coffee and goodies. Id like everybody to know about
my churchs Bible study on marriage (or parenting class, sermon topics, anything
on your church calendar that would spark interest). If youd like to know more,
I have a list of activities right beside the coffeepot. I hope youll take this
home and consider coming. Ive also included the services and times at my
church, and directions. Feel free to call or chat with me today if you have any
A neighborhood coffee will not only warm your neighbor to you, but also put
her in touch with others.
5. When you see a moving van in the neighborhood, thats
your signal to be on mission! Pop by while boxes are being unloaded
and lend a hand. Moving is a traumatic time; in fact moving is listed
in third place right behind death and divorce as the leading cause of stress in
America. Such a perplexing time is when families are most open to learning about their new
During their first week in the new house, stop by and invite them to church.
Offer to be the leading car in a caravan to show them the way. Such a heartfelt
introduction to the area will lend color and warmth to their early memories of
home in a strange new place.
6. Give refreshment to a caregiver. Scout out someone
nearby who is caring for an aging parent, dealing with a family members
extended illness or coping with a disabled child. All caregivers need a break!
Youll be on mission when you give
respite to this person. Offer to stay while the caregiver takes a bath or goes
out shopping. Or lend a hand by picking up and delivering groceries. Tell the
caregiver your church will be praying for the family. Invite them to church,
and be sure your facility offers wheelchair access.
Caregivers need emotional support: go the extra mile and research agencies
or ministries in the area designed specifically for their needs. List phone
numbers and contact people and post it beside the caregivers telephone.
7. Being on mission means involving the kids! Next
time your family is out walking the dog, give each child a large plastic bag
and do trash cleanup in your area. If theres a neighborhood bulletin board,
post a general note: Weve been tidying up the place.
Let us tell you about the One who removed the garbage from our lives. List
church service times, location and your phone number. Who knows? You may start
a quiet campaign for keeping the neighborhood clean. Many will be drawn to an
act of service that asks for nothing in return. Your children will learn the
value of doing something simply because it improves life, benefits others and
draws them to Christ.
8. Dont forget the single adult in your neighborhood. This
person may be less visible but certainly worth finding! Singles have so much to
offer, yet many are reluctant to take the initiative.
Draw them out with an invitation to your church and then share a meal
afterward. Youd be surprised how many singles avoid church because they live in
a couples-oriented world.
Illustrations by Scott Brooks
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC