The Art of Neighboring

A Six-Week Series Exploring the Greatest Commandment

In early summer of 2022 our church did a worship series titled The Art of Neighboring, based on the book of the same title by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. Some small groups had studied the book in the spring, and as we moved into summer after a long winter of lockdowns, this felt like a great time to encourage the whole congregation to reach out to their communities and to study together how God calls us to be good neighbors to one another. 

Children’s Artwork

Because the series was titled The Art of Neighboring, we thought we would play up the “art” theme and develop a large art piece with the help of our Sunday school kids. Our summer intern, Emma Grootenboer, and I used a projector 

to trace a huge map of our region (Kitchener−Waterloo, Ontario) on four large sheets of butcher paper and then covered the streets with painter’s tape. On a Sunday morning I showed the kids different maps and asked them about where they live. We discussed what it means to be a good neighbor, then invited the kids to paint different blocks or sections of the map with bright colors. A few days later Emma and I removed the painter’s tape and painted the streets black, resulting in a map that looked like a stained-glass window. We hung the map on a sanctuary wall for the duration of the worship series and used it as our series image for the bulletin and for our worship slides. 

Theme Song

During the series we used “The Greatest Commandment” as our theme song, singing it every week but one. Written by Paul Zach, a gifted writer of congregational song, it is a wonderful way to keep the words of the greatest commandments—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [and] love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39)—front and center in congregants’ minds all week. The tune itself is simple enough for congregations to quickly join in. With the addition of an easy-to-sing refrain that layers onto the main text, this song is kept from seeming too trite and simplistic and explodes with possibilities. It is included on The Porter’s Gate album Neighbor Songs, which you might want to check out for other songs to fit this series. The album is found on the main streaming platforms, and lead sheets and vocal and piano scores can be purchased and downloaded at 

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” T-shirts

Since a number of us quoted Fred Rogers in our sermons, the pastors also decided to have some fun with the series and wore T-shirts that read “Won’t you be my neighbor?” in the pulpit. Having T-shirts and selling them to congregants might be a way to raise funds for a particular neighbor in need, a neighborhood or church ministry, or a community group. 

Ordering the Worship Elements

During the weeks of this series we had a number of additions to our worship time, including the ordination of elders and deacons, a baptism, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Because some worship elements, like the prayer of confession and assurance of pardon, were folded into those celebrations, they are not evident in each week’s liturgy outlined below. As always you are encouraged to take these service outlines and make them your own by adding, deleting, and reordering elements to fit your own context. 

Series Outline

Week One: Luke 10:25–37, “Who Is My Neighbor?”

Week Two: Luke 10:38–42, “Time to Neighbor”

Week Three: Luke 5:27–32, “Fearing Your Neighbor”

Week Four: Philippians 2:1–11, “A Neighborly Heart”

Week Five: Romans 12:9–21, “For the Love of God”

Week Six: Luke 7:36–50, “Our Need for Help”


Week One

Gathering and Greeting

Welcome and Announcements

[Draw attention to the new series and the map and teach the theme song.]

Call to Worship

In Jesus Christ, 

the God of heaven made his home on earth, 

becoming our neighbor,

living next door, living with us. 

So come now, 

you who are far from home 

and long to draw close to God, 

you who are weary and long to be cared for. 

Our God is with us. 

Our God draws near, now and always.

God’s Greeting and Mutual Greeting


“God Himself Is with Us” Tersteegen, LUYH 565, GtG 412 

“Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)” Brown


Prayers of the People

Children’s Blessing

Ordination of Officebearers

The Teaching, Vows, Ordination, and Charge



“May the Mind of Christ, My Savior” Wilkinson, LUYH 334

Proclamation of the Word

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture: Luke 10:25–37

Sermon: “Who Is My Neighbor”

Sermon Notes

How does the story of the Good Samaritan challenge our assumptions about who our neighbors are? How does this story prompt us to understand what a neighbor is and does?

Prayer of Application

Theme Song

“The Greatest Commandment” Zach

Celebration of the Lord’s Supper

This liturgy is taken from “A Brief Form for the Celebration of Holy Communion” © 2016, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted with permission.

The Teaching

Leader 1: We love because God first loved us. God sent his Son into the world as an atoning sacrifice for us so that we might live through him. The Belgic Confession says that by coming to this table and eating this meal, “we are moved to a fervent love of God and our neighbors” through union with Christ (Belgic Confession, Article 35). With eager expectation of that unity and love, let us come now to the table.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader 2: Lift up your hearts. 

We lift them up to the Lord. 

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. 

It is right for us to give thanks and praise. 

With joy we praise you, gracious God, 

for you have created heaven and earth, 

made us in your image, 

and kept covenant with us— 

even when we fell into sin. 

We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, 

who by his life, death, and resurrection 

opened to us the way of everlasting life. 

Therefore we join our voices with 

all the saints and angels

and the whole creation to proclaim 

the glory of your name: 

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, 

heaven and earth are full of your glory. 

Hosanna in the highest.

The Institution

Leader 1: We give thanks to God the Father that our Savior, Jesus Christ, before he suffered, gave us this memorial of his sacrifice until he comes again. At his last supper, the Lord Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, he took the cup after the supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this in remembrance of me.”

For whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).

Therefore we proclaim our faith as signed and sealed in this sacrament:

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Leader 2: Lord, our God, send your Holy Spirit so that this bread and cup may be for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus

Christ. May we and all your saints be united with Christ and remain faithful in hope and love. Gather your whole church, O Lord, into the glory of your kingdom. We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.


“Just as I Am, Without One Plea” Elliot, LUYH 627, GtG 442, SSS 500

The Invitation

Leader 1: Congregation of Jesus Christ, the Lord has prepared his table for all who love him and trust in him alone for their salvation. All who are truly sorry for their sins, who sincerely believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and who desire to live in obedience to him, are now invited to come with gladness to the table of the Lord.

Sharing of the Bread and Cup

Response of Praise

Leader 2: Congregation in Christ, since the Lord has fed us at his table, let us praise his holy name with thanksgiving.

Praise the LORD, my soul; 

    all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 

Praise the LORD, my soul, 

    and forget not all his benefits— 

who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases, 

who redeems your life from the pit 

    and crowns you with love and compassion, 

who satisfies your desires with good things 

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

—Psalm 103:1–5

Sending and Blessing


As you leave this place this day,

may Christ’s love sustain you,

and may we love those we meet 

as you loved us. 

May the Spirit empower you,

and may we empower all we meet,

seeking their health and flourishing.  

May God’s joy fill your hearts,

and may that joy overflow

to the ends of the earth for God’s glory,

now and forever. 


—Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources (TWS 9.2.18), alt. 


“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” Ken, LUYH 965, GtG 606, SSS 696

Social Media and Bulletin Announcements

The Art of Neighboring Series: The second greatest commandment is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. But who are our neighbors, and what does it look like to love them? On [insert date] we’ll kick off a six-week series exploring what it means to tangibly love those who live around us and seek the flourishing of community in our neighborhoods.

The Art of Neighboring Banner: We’re so excited that our children helped make the banners for this series! Together we created a map of [insert your location] (or at least as much as we could fit), painting each part of the city with bright colors to remind us to shine brightly in the places where we live. We encourage you to keep the conversation going. Ask your child what part of the city they helped paint, and then discuss some practical ways your family might show Jesus’ love in your own neighborhood. We invite everyone to use this map (or another map or visual aid) to help guide your prayer throughout this series as we pray over our neighborhoods and communities. (Did you know we have a map of our communities on our website? Check it out at [insert your own community map]).


Week Two 

Gathering and Greeting

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship

Be still and know that God is.

God was also in the beginning.

And when all human striving has ceased, 

God will still be.

From everlasting to everlasting, God is God, and alone is worthy to be worshiped.

God’s Greeting and Mutual Greeting


“Cornerstone” Mote et al.

“Yet Not I but through Christ in Me” Robinson et al.

Confession and Assurance

Call to Confession

We have already spoken of the wonder of Christ working in and through us and the assurance that we are God’s forgiven children, redeemed and free. In the comfort of that assurance let us come before God in prayer, confessing our sins so that in acknowledging our unworthiness we may understand more fully the grace that God has given. 

Prayer of Confession

Gracious Father, the God of life,

teach us ever more to respect 

and love all the lives you create.

Forgive us our lack of love and concern for those

who are yet unborn,

who are born but don’t fit our definition 

of healthy or whole,

who are rejected by their parents.

Teach us to open our hearts and our homes 

to all your children. 

Forgive us when we are negligent and uncaring

toward those who are elderly,

some forgotten in nursing homes,

others treated as if they have no gifts to share 

and no place to serve, 

their past contributions to church and society forgotten. 

Forgive us for not stopping to listen and learn, 

for not caring for those who cannot afford medical care, 

for those who suffer from a careless society. 

Forgive us for not caring for those who are ill, 

those who live with debilitating diseases 

and mental illnesses. 

Forgive us for not being patient 

with the cycle of good days and bad days,

for forgetting those little acts of hospitality

and adjustments that would allow for their presence and participation, 

for not wanting to give the energy and effort needed

to be fully present and listen 

so that we may receive the gifts they have to give. 

Forgive us for being too busy and full of self-importance

to be the neighbors you have called us to be. 

Teach us to open our hearts,

to open our homes and churches,

to visit the lonely,

to bring your love into their lives on this earth. 

Through Christ, our Lord. 


—Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources (TWS 2.2.60), expanded.


“What the Lord Has Done in Me” Morgan, LUYH 800, SSS 670

Assurance of Pardon

Children’s Blessing

Theme Song

“The Greatest Commandment” Zach

Proclamation of the Word

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture: Luke 10:38–42

Sermon: “Time to Neighbor”

Sermon Notes

Are you too hurried to love? Do you have the space in your life to be a good neighbor? How does dwelling in God’s presence allow us to serve one another well?

Prayer of Application

Response to the Word


“Christ Be All Around Me” Leonard et al. 


Prayers of the People

Sending and Blessing


“Be Thou My Vision,” vs. 1–3 Byrne and Hull, LUYH 859, GtG 450, SSS 640

As you leave here today, 

May you go with the presence of Christ as your guide, 

eager to be Christ’s presence in the lives of others. 

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

May you leave here desiring to guard 

your tongue and mind, 

to put aside actions and speech that harm others. 

Be thou my wisdom and thou my true word.

May you leave here desiring the flourishing of all people,

to serve without being hungry for praise, 

to give up your own position and greed

so that others may experience the bounty of this world. 

Be my inheritance now and always.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all 

as together we build God’s beautiful community. 

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my vision, O Ruler of all. Amen.

—Rev. Joyce Borger, 2023 © Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, with text from “Be Thou My Vision” Byrne and Hull, LUYH 859, GtG 450, SSS 640


“Be Thou My Vision,” v. 4 Byrne and Hull, LUYH 859, GtG 450, SSS 640


Week Three

[In this service we joyfully witnessed the profession of faith of a woman who began attending our church after she moved into our neighborhood, as well as the baptism of her son.]

Gathering and Greeting

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship

God calls us to worship, and we come.

Some of us come with laughter and songs of joy.

Some of us come from a sense of obligation or habit.

Some of us come with hearts heavy with grief.

Some come with distraction or exhaustion,

others with eagerness and enthusiasm.

Some of us come with stress, loneliness, or depression.

God calls all of us to come and worship,

to give ourselves—all our joy and pain, hurt and hope.

God calls all of us to come and worship,

to receive God’s love, grace, joy, and peace.

And it is the God who invites us to come 

who speaks to us first 

and tells us there is a place for us here 

with whatever we bring into this space.

—Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources (TWS 1.2.28), alt.

God’s Greeting & Mutual Greeting


“Mighty to Save” Morgan and Fielding, LUYH 611 

“Way Maker” Egbu

Profession of Faith & Sacrament of Baptism

Proclamation of the Word


“Show Us Christ” Kauflin and Plank

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture: Luke 5:27–32

Sermon: “Fearing Your Neighbor”

Sermon Notes

What or who are we afraid of? How does Jesus model a way of neighboring that leads to building bridges, not fences?

Prayer of Application

Response to the Word


“Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” Temple and St. Francis of Assisi, GtG 753, SSS 616

Offering Announcement

Prayers of the People

Sending and Blessing

Theme Song

“The Greatest Commandment” Zach

Spoken Sending and Blessing

Let mutual love continue.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,

for by doing that some have entertained angels 

without knowing it.

Remember those who are in prison,

as though you were in prison with them. . . .

Be content with what you have.

And remember that God has promised,

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

—adapted from Hebrews 13:1–3, 5, NRSV 


“Glory Be to the Father” Anon., LUYH 959, GtG 580, SSS 695 


Week Four

Gathering & Greeting

Welcome & Announcements

Call to Worship

We lift up our eyes to the mountains—

where does our help come from?

Our help comes from the LORD,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

—adapted from Psalm 121:1–2

As the Maker of heaven and earth greets us this morning, let us open our hands to receive this 

blessing, this help.

God’s Greeting & Mutual Greeting


“All Creatures of Our God and King” Draper and St. Francis of Assisi, LUYH 551, GtG 15, SSS 16

“Come As You Are” Glover et al.

Prayer of Confession

Lord, you said, 

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

Forgive us our lukewarm love and our disobedience.

Lord, you said, 

“You may ask for anything in my name.”

Forgive us when we think we need to solve our own problems. 

Lord, you said, 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

We confess that our lives are often consumed by worry and anxiety. 

Lord, you said, 

“If you remain in me and I in you, 

you will bear much fruit.”

Forgive us our barren lives, Lord. 

Lord, you said,

“You must testify, for you have been with me.”

We confess, Lord, that we have been too often silent. 

Lord, you said, 

“Love each other as I have loved you.”

In this and in so many other ways,

we confess our failures and shortcomings. Amen. 

—From Reformed Worship 64:24 © 2002, Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission. 

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 5:1–2


“All I Have Is Christ” Kauflin 

Children’s Blessing

Proclamation of the Word

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture: Philippians 2:1–11

Sermon: “A Neighborly Heart”

Sermon Notes

How does the Spirit help us look to the interests of others? Would something be lost in the community if our church were gone? Are we contributing to those around us? Do we live for others, not just ourselves?

Prayer of Application

Response to the Word


“Will You Come and Follow Me” Bell, LUYH 742, GtG 726, SSS 598

Prayer of the People

Sending and Blessing

Theme Song

“The Greatest Commandment” Zach

Spoken Blessing

As you leave this place, 

may God guide your feet.

As you step into an unknown future,

may you have confidence in the faithfulness of God. 

As you live out your calling to be 

Christ’s hands and feet,

may you see opportunities to serve 

and to love your neighbor,

grounding both your work and your rest in Christ. 


—Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources (TWS B.9.1.2), alt.

Sung Blessing

“The Blessing” Brown et al.


Week Five

Gathering and Greeting

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship

In view of God’s mercy,

we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God—

this is our true and proper worship.

—adapted from Romans 12:1

As we gather,

we open ourselves up to the power of the Holy Spirit,

who transforms our hearts and minds

so that we will recognize God’s presence,

hear God’s voice,

know God’s will,

and walk in God’s way.

May God renew us

as we praise his great and glorious name.

God’s Greeting & Mutual Greeting


“How Can I Keep from Singing” Tomlin et al.

“The Lion and the Lamb” Brown et al.

Children’s Blessing

Prayers of the People

Proclamation of the Word


“Build My Life” Younker et al.

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture: Romans 12:9–21

Sermon: “For the Love of God”

Sermon Notes

What does sincere love look like? What does it mean to love someone not because of what they can do for us, but because of who they are in Christ?

Prayer of Application

Theme Song

“The Greatest Commandment” Zach

Celebration of the Lord’s Supper

Sending and Blessing


May our Lord Jesus Christ,

who prayed that we would be one,

even as he and the Father are one,

so grace you with his Spirit

that you may grow in grace and fellowship

and discover joy in walking together 

as part of Christ’s body—

so that the world may know of God’s love for us in Christ. 


—Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition © 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources (TWS S.9.2.2), alt. 


“To God Be the Glory” Crouch, LUYH 956


Week Six

Gathering and Greeting

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship

Great and marvelous are your deeds, 

Lord God Almighty.

Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.

Who will not fear you, Lord, 

and bring glory to your name?

For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you.

—Revelation 15:3–4

God’s Greeting and Mutual Greeting


“God Is For Us” Ferguson et al.

“Awesome God” Mullins, GtG 616

Confession and Assurance

Call to Confession

Our God is an awesome God, great in power and great in mercy. So we turn to our God in our time of need, as we bring before him our sins and our sorrows, knowing he stands ready to offer forgiveness and help. We lift our eyes to him.


“I Lift My Eyes Up” Doerkson, LUYH 652

Prayer of Confession 

Merciful God,

you pardon all who truly repent and turn to you.

We humbly confess our sins and ask your mercy.

We have not loved you with a pure heart,

nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves.

We have not done justice, loved kindness,

or walked humbly with you, our God.

Have mercy on us, O God, in your loving-kindness.

In your great compassion, cleanse us from our sin.

Create in us a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within us.

Do not cast us from your presence,

or take your Holy Spirit from us.

Restore to us the joy of your salvation

and sustain us with your bountiful Spirit

through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

—The Book of Common Worship © 1946, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), p. 26, alt., P.D. 


“I Lift My Eyes Up” Doerkson, LUYH 652

Assurance of Pardon

Through Jesus Christ forgiveness of sins 

is proclaimed to you.

In Christ we have redemption through his blood,

the forgiveness of our sins,

according to the riches of his grace.

Thanks be to God!

—adapted from Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7, NRSV


“This Is Amazing Grace” Riddle et al.

Children’s Blessing

Proclamation of the Word

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture: Luke 7:36–50

Sermon: “Our Need for Help”

Sermon Notes

How does being a good neighbor lead us to receiving from our neighbors? Would we rather be independent than vulnerable? How does drawing close to one another help us draw close to God, and vice versa?

Prayer of Application

Response to the Word


“Faith Begins by Letting Go” Daw, GtG 684, LUYH 852


Prayers of the People

Sending and Blessing

Theme Song

“The Greatest Commandment” Zach

Blessing: [see Week Four]


“We Receive Your Blessing” Moes, LUYH 947

Rev. Laura de Jong is a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church in North America with a passion for worship and ecclesiology. She served as pastor of Second CRC in Grand Haven, Michigan, for four years before returning to Southern Ontario, where she currently serves as interim pastor of preaching and pastoral care at Community CRC in Kitchener.

Reformed Worship 148 © June 2023, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.