In days gone by my high school buddies would call and say, “Jim, let’s hang out. Let’s go get a Coke. Let’s go play some ball”. — And I NEVER said no!

Margin in our lives, time to simply “hang out” is freeing and fun, and yet woefully absent in our over scheduled and device driven culture. This desert of relational connection can atrophy our story telling and listening senses. As our calendars scream productivity our souls yearn for relational connection.

So when did we loose the “art of hanging out”? And more importantly, can we gain it back? There is no one culprit to our busyness illness — society, consumerism, social media, politics — and yes, even the Western model church as we often program it.

Jesus lived differently. As with many issues he was countercultural. He was a “hanging out” kind of guy. The rhythms of his life included margin to invest in friends and relationships. Luke writes that Jesus “came eating and drinking” and was “a friend to sinners”.

The odds were that you would’ve been more likely to bump into Jesus at a neighborhood barbecue, and not a church service. Does that surprise you?

Here’s an idea. What if we as followers of Jesus dusted off the “art of hanging out” and ascribed it the same spiritual status as prayer, worship or Bible study? What if we lived out our faith like Jesus did in the everyday places where we work, eat and play? What if we were known in our community as “friends of sinners” and neighbors who “came eating and drinking”?

Frederick Buechner wrote that, ”If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors.”

National Good Neighbor Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday of September. It is a simple and yet important reminder of the value of being good neighbors, an opportunity to exercise the “art of hanging out”.

I invite you to join with citizens all across our nation on September 17, 2017 as we proclaim and demonstrate the value of being a good neighbor, by encouraging and building neighborhood relationships, resulting in stronger and more caring communities.

For more information and resources visit our website at

What does it look like for you to be a good neighbor?


Jim, Neighborhood Advocate