Neighborliness to your LDS Neighbors


From my house I can walk easily to at least three different Latter-day Saint buildings of worship. Now you may think I am an exceptional walker, and while I enjoy the exercise of walking, that is not the point of my initial statement. Rather, my point is that as a resident of the state of Utah my neighbors in large measure are Latter-day Saints. The ubiquitous nature of these aforementioned buildings demonstrates the unique historical influence the LDS church has in the state of my residence.

LDS Neighborliness

Visitors from out of town are often impressed with the unique subculture brought on by the prevalence of Latter-day Saints. In many ways, this subculture is positive. Suburban Utah is known for being safe, clean, orderly, and family-friendly. It is a great place to live! My LDS neighbors have overall demonstrated an intentional neighborliness that is very appealing. We have received gifts for Christmas, baked goods, offers to watch our children, and one of our older neighbors sometimes even beats us to shoveling our sidewalk!

All of these displays are very much in keeping with the general teaching and expectation for Latter Day Saints. One LDS President, Spencer W. Kimball, encouraged service to others by exclaiming, “We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is much more of us to find!”1

Along with general do-good statements like this, Latter-day Saints also use biblical verses and accounts to encourage kind and helpful behavior among its members. It often appears that the general behavior of Latter-day Saints parallels what is to be expected of born-again Christians when it comes to general neighborliness.

Born-again Christian Neighborliness

With this general pattern in neighborhoods around Utah, I think it’s sometimes hard for born-again Christians to know how to live with their neighbors to make a distinctive impact for Christ. Let me suggest a few helps from the Apostle Paul’s instructions in Colossians 4:5–6. In these verses, Paul emphasizes two facets of our daily testimony that I believe serve as helpful reminders in the context of Mormonland.

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5–6, NASB 95)

First, let me note the context of Paul’s instructions as regulating the Christian’s manner of life “toward outsiders.” “Outsiders” refers to those outside the bounds of the biblical faith. Despite the fact that Latter-day Saints use a great deal of language from the Bible and even use certain passages of the Bible to encourage kindness and service to others, Latter-day Saints still remain outside of the bounds of biblical orthodoxy.2 Thus, Paul’s instructions have a direct application for born-again Christians seeking to maintain a witness for Christ among their LDS neighbors.


Now observe that Paul’s opening command is to conduct oneself with wisdom. While we could literally render the language here as “walk,” Paul’s consistent usage of this word implies the overall behavior or lifestyle of the Christian. Paul adds two descriptions to this behavior, that it should be done with wisdom and that we should make the most of every opportunity.

Take a moment now to consider how you could apply this to interactions with your LDS neighbors. Let me suggest simply that as you interact with your neighbors, think about it. Whatever opportunity you are given, pause and consider this as an opportunity to be a genuine witness for Christ.


Moving beyond wise and opportunistic (I mean this word in the best sense possible) conduct, Paul commends speech that is overall gracious in character and seasoned with salt. While the imagery might feel a little strange to us, the basic point is clear. Gracious and discerning speech is to be on the tongue of the believer in interactions with those outside of the biblical faith.

But note as well that Paul’s reference to “respond to each person” seems to imply that the behavior and speech commended will generate outsiders to inquire about our faith in the Lord Jesus. To such questions, we should be able and ready to give a sound response. Here, let me suggest that you cultivate thoughtfulness in your conversations with your LDS neighbors. Choose your words wisely, be kind, ask questions, and be ready to give the Bible’s answers with a tone of grace.


While it may be winter now and your neighbors are cloistered inside, it won’t be long, and they will emerge from their homes to take in the warmth of spring. So, take some time now to begin praying for opportunities that God will give you to be neighborly in a distinctively Christian way. Commend the sufficiency of the work of Christ at every meaningful opportunity with thoughtful and gracious speech.


  1. Teaching of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 85–86

  2. For more on this see Are Mormons Christians?.