Our society doesn't have a parish mentality, and that means most church neighbors have little disposition to attend the church closest to their home. Church-goers drive by many closer churches in order to attend the church that best suits them—whether because of denominational affiliation, style of worship, available ministry programs (like a dynamic youth group), and so on. Such facts shouldn't discourage us from reaching out to our nearest neighbors, but they should inform how we relate to them.
First of all, most people don't think it much of a blessing to have a church nearby! We're a bit of a mystery to them; they have little idea about (or interest in) what goes on inside our building. The weekend traffic, noise, and commotion on the outside may puzzle or perturb them. Due to our proximity to a freeway, railroad tracks, and a main street, we had few neighbors to deal with when I pastored, but my first priority was to remove some of the stigma of church by communicating our desire ...1