Spotlight Interview with Gary Kendall: How an App can Help You Love Your Neighbors Better

How well do you know your neighbors? Do you know them by name? Pray for them by name? 

If you have ever wondered, How can I know who lives in these houses on these streets I’m driving down and how can I pray for them by name? 

Well, there’s an app for that! The Bless Every Home app is designed to use “the technology of today to pray for every person in our community by name.”

Here is our opportunity: to make our homes a lighthouse, a ministry outpost on our street. I want my home to be that. And so we’re going to find out how that works. I spoke with Gary Kendall from the Flourishing Cooperative to talk about an app (yes, that kind of app on our phone!) can actually help us know and pray for our neighbors by name.

This transcript is edited for clarity and space. Listen to the full Mornings with Carmen interview on or wherever you get podcasts. 

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Carmen: Okay, so first of all, I just want to go ahead and tell you I love it. I’m already using it. I’m praying every single day for the five neighbors that the Bless app is sending me, and I know and I’m making little notes on the pages, adding information where I might know more about who’s in that house and what’s happening there than the app knows. Right? Love it. Yeah. Talk with us about using technology to pray for every person in our community by name.

Gary Kendall: Well, thank you, Carmen. Technology’s a tool, right? It’s a moral tool. You can use it for good or some people don’t. But in this case, what we’re doing is we’re being able to take a desire that I think is in the heart of nearly every Christian to see their friends and their loved ones come and know Jesus. And then the Bible tells us as far back as in the book of Leviticus, to love our neighbor. And what I really appreciate about that is loving your neighbor is something that’s kind of even transcended Christianity. I mean, people talk about being a good neighbor. They may not even know where that came from, but it’s the second commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

So what we’ve done with technology is simply taking data that’s easily available— it’s what’s called second party data, like the White Pages data, and just giving that to people so they can pray for their closest neighbors and encouraging them to do it on a daily basis. In fact, if you use the app, it literally walks you around your neighborhood with technology to pray for your neighbors, and then you can live your life in such a way that you become the hands and feet of Jesus to them.

Technology’s a tool, right? It’s a moral tool. You can use it for good or some people don’t. But in this case, what we’re doing is we’re being able to take a desire that I think is in the heart of nearly every Christian to see their friends and their loved ones come and know Jesus.

Gary Kendall

Carmen: Some of the things that I really appreciate is some language that I’ve heard before and it resonates. And so if you’ve ever done the Experience in God program workbook, however you think about that study, you have heard this invitation to join God in what he is doing. Well, that’s what is equipping you to do, to join God in what He is doing.

And then if you’ve ever heard the prayer-care-share lifestyle invitation, we’re invited to pray and care and share with our neighbors. That is language that is here too. So is the language of raising up a generation. If you’ve ever heard yourself say or thought to yourself, I want to be a part of raising up a generation, well that’s some of the language that’s going to resonate here. You can sign up as an individual and there are also ways for your church to sign up. 

And I want to talk about both of those with you, Gary. Talk about just an individual joining this effort and then I want you to also talk about how we take this information to our pastors and get our churches involved.

Gary: Absolutely. So short story, I started using Bless Every Home about seven years ago. And before that I was meeting my neighbors. I was making the lists that I would keep of the names that I could meet, et cetera. And using the old Mission America plan of being a lighthouse, that was the words that I had heard— and four of my neighbors came to Christ just because of natural relationships in my neighborhood. I was a fan of this idea before I ever found Bless Every Home. What I loved about it was it gave me a great place to be able to keep up with it, even on my phone. So right in my pocket, I can have a list of my nearest neighbors and the ones I’m praying for, and it took it to another whole level of keeping in the forefront of my mind. So I’ve seen a lot of progress.

So right in my pocket, I can have a list of my nearest neighbors and the ones I’m praying for, and it took it to another whole level of keeping in the forefront of my mind.

Gary Kendall

If you  want to think about a church for a moment. Seven years ago, I started a ministry in Kansas City called Love KC with the goal that every single person in Kansas City would hear the good news of Jesus from a friend. And I started sharing about Bless Every Home and telling people what I had found. I didn’t really have any idea in those days that today, seven years later, we would have 4,460 people in Kansas City who have downloaded the app and are loving their neighbors and reaching out to Kansas City. 

We actually are praying for 11% of the whole city and we are growing it at 50 a month. So if you’re wondering, does this really work? It does because friends tell friends, you can do this. It’s growing organically at this point. Ninety eight churches have said this is going to be our primary way that we’re reaching out to our neighbors and friends. And so they’re using the tool that helps them have a rollup of the individual lights in their congregation that shows neighborhoods prayed for, prayers offered,times people have offered a caring action, and then times people have shared their faith. So it actually gets very exciting, Carmen, when you do it together with your friends and you see God work out ahead of you,

Carmen: It’s totally exciting. I already love it. I’m already so enthused about it. I mean, those who are listening, they know that I have a heart for my neighbors. I’m a Mission America person. I’m a prayer care share person. That’s awesome. And yet I should hit the pause button there and say, and yet of the 25 houses on my street— I only know intimately by name, what their kids’ names are, what their issues are, who’s really living there—I only know six or seven or eight and three of ’em are related to me. So it’s kind of embarrassing when you actually start doing this, you’re like, okay, I’m a little bit embarrassed that I didn’t know more.

Tell us one of the stories, because I know that God has revealed how he’s working through this in really tangible ways.

Gary: Well, you’ll love this story. So my next door neighbor is kind of, we call him the Man of Peace in the neighborhood. It’s not a follower of Christ yet, but it throws great parties in his backyard and has a swimming pool and it seems like the place where the neighborhood gathers. So one of my neighbors was over there. We were at multiple parties the same summer and during the course of the, we would play water volleyball and water volleyball, you rotate. So you see everybody on the other team eventually. And every time we’d see each other at the net, he would talk about, Hey, what do you do? Told him I was a pastor. We’d just small talk and then it would get towels afterwards, just sit and talk. And I was sharing my faith with John in a really natural, normal way.

Not any way aggressive, just giving him an opportunity if he wanted. This went on for most of that summer. And then one Saturday morning at about seven 30 in the morning, he walked into my house, didn’t knock or anything. He later apologized for that, but walked into my living room and said, what do I need to do? And he had a turnaround in his life to follow Christ. 

But the prayer was the thing that made everything possible. It was like putting the seed in the soil and watering it with prayer.


He now leads a ministry called Share the Hope in Kansas City that works with people who are coming out of addiction or coming out of jail and helps them to get back on their feet. And that was just totally queued up by God. But the prayer was the thing that made everything possible. It was like putting the seed in the soil and watering it with prayer.

Carmen: I love that you saw John as a real person and a real neighbor with a real gift of hospitality that you went and ate with him, that you were fellowing with him, that you were splashing ground in his pool. Can you make that appeal that we actually treat people like real people?

Gary: Yeah, I’d love to do that. I’m a part of the Flourishing Cooperative, which is doing a bit of a rebrand with us every home to try to help this be in the language of what’s natural for people today. And we are shifting not away from Pray Care and Share, we still want people to do that, but we’re shifting to B-L-E-S-S.

We’re encouraging people to use the acrostic bless B-L-E-S-S to give them some tangible ideas for next steps:

  • B begin with prayer. That’s where it all starts. 
  • L listen to God and to others.
  • E Eat together, which is my favorite one. 
  • S serve, find a way to be the hands of feet of Jesus. 
  • S share your story. 

The word bless is used all through Scriptures with the idea that you can love someone by blessing them. Bless your family, bless your neighbors, bless your city. We’re trying to reclaim that word bless. And then when we use the acrostic, bless in this way, it actually gives people, like if you were to meet someone you didn’t know, this might be the exact order that you would use to be able to eventually share your story or the story of Jesus with them.

So you begin with prayer, you listen, you eat, you serve, and then story, you share your story. So we think that the acrostic, you talk about mobilizing, well, anybody can do this. Dave and John Ferguson have written a book called Bless. You can find it on Amazon and it gives tangible stories. You talked about mobilization of everyday people doing these simple things and God uses ’em. God is all over this. He just needs our willingness and our effort. Simple things like listening can completely turn a relationship around. Eating together is one of the ways to build trust with someone. When you’re serving them, you open their heart to the fact that they’re actually curious about why you are doing this? And it just makes a way for you to share your story.

Carmen:  This is so good, Gary. I’m so excited that our friend Daryl mentioned this in our conversation last week and that you were just so willing to jump on with us. I just love this. I’m already using it to pray for my neighbors on Street Road in Pinnacle Hill. You should be using it to pray directly for your neighbors on your street, your road, your lane, your cul-de-sac, all those good things. And then we really want you to share this with your pastor because the real power here is in getting signed up as a partner church, where then you can, I mean, even for people who maybe are not technologically engaged, then you can produce printed prayer lists for them.

You can find out who’s moving into your community. Wouldn’t it be great? We know  from The Great Dechurching that the reason most people who are disconnected from churches, the reason they’re disconnected is because they moved. They moved, and they just never got connected to a church. And so how powerful might it be for you to be able to be praying for those houses that are for sale, right? Be praying for who’s going to move in there, and then when they move in for the Bless app to tell you who that is, and you can go and greet them by name and reach out and invite them into relationship and into fellowship and yes, eventually to church. Yes, yes, yes. So it’s all just so good. Gospel stories really do happen through all of this, and we’re so thankful for that. 

Gary: It’s a privilege to be with you. Let’s go bless our neighbors.

After hearing an interview like this one, it can be easy to move on to the next thing on our to-do list, but instead, let’s take a moment to pause, reflect on what we have heard and consider how God might be asking us to respond.

  • How well do you know your neighbors? Do you know their names? Their kids’ names? How well do you know what is going on in their lives? Take a walk or drive around your neighborhood and consider how many neighbors you know by name.
  • What obstacles might be preventing you from loving your neighbor? Perhaps you just have not allotted the time to be present in your neighborhood. Perhaps you are afraid of reaching out or standing out as “the Christians” on the block. Whatever it is, consider God’s command to “love your neighbor” and how you can grow in obedience.
  • Pray for your neighbors! Get the Bless Every Home App and commit to praying for your neighbors regularly. Involve your entire family in praying.
  • Pray specifically for opportunities to plant gospel seeds. Consider Gary’s story with his friend John— a friendship that began at a summer backyard hang out and continued in conversation. Pray for such conversations with neighbors. 
  • Does your neighborhood have houses for sale, or new neighbors? Pray for them to find connection in the neighborhood and in a local church. 
  • How could you apply BLESS (begin in prayer, listen, eat together, serve and share) in your neighborhood this summer? What does it look like to listen well? Who could you invite to share a meal? How do your neighbors need to be served? How can you share the love of Christ with them in word and deed?
  • Get your church or community/small group involved. Invite other Christians to download the app and commit to praying for/blessing their neighbors. Together, your church and friends could cover entire sections of your city!