Moving is tough. But it’s also exciting. I’ve only moved once during my childhood, but now, looking back, I can clearly see how much the two communities in which I grew up influenced me.
As a kid anticipating a move, my thoughts were mostly on my new room, the indoor swimming pool in our new house, and whether I would make good friends in our new neighborhood.
Perhaps some of those things are not so far off from what we all should keep in mind as we undertake the often stressful process of moving.
Since that initial move as a kid, I’ve moved several times to different college houses and my husband and I are now in the third apartment of our marriage. With each move, I’ve learned a little more about what I should be looking for in a new home and community, and what’s more, what God wants for me and my family as we pack our things and make a life in a different place.
Eliot Clark at The Gospel Coalition gives five pieces of advice for those who are going through a time of transition and moving to a new place. Whether that place is across town or across the world, we would do well to consider these five guidelines.
1. Leave room in your budget for giving.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us, when we are looking for a new place to live, want to get the best possible house for our money. We search for the best neighborhood we can afford, with the best schools, convenient grocery shopping, and whatever other amenities we value. But how often do we consider whether our move will leave room in our budget for giving? Clark points out that our culture conditions us to seek out our dream houses. Case in point are the HGTV shows that show families getting the most they possibly can from their budget--and somehow this usually ends up being pretty close to their dream house. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a nice place to live, but are we also making room for generosity?
2. Look for a neighborhood where you can serve.
“Instead of just looking for a home that serves our family, we’re striving to look for a home and neighborhood where we can serve others,” writes Clark. “This doesn’t negate the fact that we’d like a certain number of bedrooms to fit our family. However, finding a house that will be a means of serving others should be a priority—and that involves more than looking for an open-concept home with room for entertaining.”
The first apartment my husband and I had in the city in which we currently live had the odd design of having no living room. As a newly-married couple, we didn’t think much of it and were happy to find an apartment with two bedrooms and other points in its favor. It was overall a decent place to live, but over the nearly two years we lived there, we often bemoaned the lack of space to show hospitality. This didn’t necessarily stop us from having guests over, but it made it less enjoyable. When looking for a new apartment, an open living space was important to us because we love for our home to be a place where we can comfortably welcome guests. We also wanted to live in an area that brought us in touch with the community and made meeting new people a frequent occurrence rather than a rare event.
3. Meet your neighbors right away
This one really flows out of the second point. If you have a home that is conducive to hosting guests (and this doesn’t mean it needs to be fancy or big), it’s much easier to invite the neighbors over for coffee or dinner. If you’re not sure how to go about meeting your neighbors, and simply knocking on their door seems too daunting, perhaps try baking them something and taking it over with a note. I’ve generally found this is a great introduction. Even if your neighbors don’t end up being your best friends or if you have different schedules, it’s important to reach out to those God has put in your path. Plus, it’s such a wonderful example of community when you can borrow a cup of sugar if you run out or have someone water your plants when you are on vacation--and it’s great to be able to do these things in return.
4. Live close to the church you’ll join
Of course, not everyone may know where they will attend church right away when moving to a new place, but if at all possible, try to search for a church while you are searching for a house. I’ve lived close to an hour away from my church and I’ve also lived a half a mile away, and I can attest to the fact that it has made such a difference living close. While attending a good church even if it is far away is not necessarily a bad thing, one of the reasons the Church exists is for believers to engage in genuine fellowship with fellow members of the Body of Christ. Doing this for an hour on Sunday morning and perhaps for one evening during the week often isn’t enough to establish true community. Now, my husband and I feel like so many of our neighbors are our church family, and our church family members are our friends.
Here are some things to consider when moving as far as attending church: “A long commute to work can be tiresome, but living farther from your church is potentially more damaging. You’ll be less likely to attend when you don’t feel like it. You’ll also have a more difficult time missionally whenever you encourage neighbors to attend with you. If your move takes you farther away from your church, perhaps consider linking arms with a congregation nearer your new home.”
5. Love the place you live.
Wherever God is calling you, whether that is to the city, the suburbs, the country, or to a foreign country, remember that He places people where they are for a reason and that, if He is calling you and your family somewhere, His plans include mission opportunities as well as opportunities to grow your faith in a new community. I’ve found that the more I am open to setting down roots wherever God has put me, the more the life I am building will bear the fruitful blessings of community and connectedness. I came to the South from the Midwest, and wasn’t at all sure initially that I wanted to stay, but over the years, I’ve come to embrace where God has me right now.
“You can live anywhere and love it,” writes Clark. “In fact, you need to. Loving the place you live may be the most important step of being on mission where you’re planted.”
Are you getting ready to move soon? Are you picking up your whole family and moving across country, or are you a college student going to a different state for school? Whatever your situation, I hope these five pieces of advice will encourage you to be open to what God can do through this time of transition.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash.com
Publication date: July 25, 2017
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com