It was a dream job!
Get paid for doing something we already loved doing? Sign me up!
We worked this job for nearly two years when the Lord moved us to a new place and soon after we became parents to our first little boy.
But our time spent as community coordinators (that was our actual title) never strayed far from our minds.
It was this experience that propelled us to Colorado and more than a thousand miles away from our family.
It was this experience that will forever be etched on our memories as some of the best years of our lives. For it was in this experience, we discovered God’s purpose and will for Christian fellowship and true evangelism. It was this experience that forever signifies and exemplifies authentic community.
As followers of Jesus we are commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). It was the last thing Jesus ever said to His disciples.
As we traverse new waters in a town that is 90% unchurched, and we stare at the blank slate before us, we are reminded again of those years spent serving a community that did not know Jesus. Now, it’s just on a much larger scale and with two children in tow.
As we head into the summer months when neighborhoods become alive with laughing children and the smell of BBQ on the grill, I want to share with you some practical ways to be intentional in your neighborhood. It is in getting to know those around you that relationships develop and discipleship can follow.
I’m going to break this into two posts to make it easier to digest. So, I will share 10 ways to be intentional in your neighborhood with you today and 10 more tomorrow. In the end, you’ll have 20 ways to be intentional in your neighborhood!
Loving your neighbors well is possible! Let’s make this summer the summer of being intentional!
Being present in our neighborhoods is the easiest way to love your neighbor.
Are you the house that’s always dark? Consider staying home a night or two a week, taking a walk outside, or lingering at the mailbox a moment longer.
Slow down and be present in your neighborhood.
Don’t be the grouch on the street, or the person who never says, “Hi!”
Throw up your hand and give a little, “Hello” as you wave.
I have a pretty quiet voice (unless I’m totally comfortable), but I still make an effort to at least wave to those I see. My husband is totally opposite. He has a knack for getting people’s stories before they know what’s hit them. I joke that “Everyone loves Mark. They just tolerate his wife.” 😉
No matter our temperaments, we can all smile and wave. Be friendly to your neighbors!
If you see someone go by on a bike, make note of it and consider inviting them on your next family bike ride. Take notice when someone makes the walk down the driveway to get their morning paper, and maybe join them a morning or two each week. Does someone seem to always have pizza delivered? Consider having them over for a home cooked meal.
Don’t be Nosy Rosy, but be observant. Be observant so you can be intentional to love your neighbors well!
Make your home inviting.
One of the first things my husband and I talked about when we bought our home was that we wanted our home to speak to God’s glory.
No I’m not going to be the best decorated, nor will I spend loads of money on landscaping, but I will do what I can with what I have to make the outside of my home beautiful.
- Keep the yard mowed
- Weed your garden
- Plant a few tulips
- Keep the trash cleaned up
- Create a welcoming front door
The same goes for the inside of your home. You don’t have to have an immaculate house to keep it tidy, warm and inviting.
Sit on the front porch after dinner.
So many of us now have enclosed back yards, and one of our first investments when we buy a new home is a privacy fence.
I get it. I grew up with a privacy fence gridlock in my backyard. We need our space, no doubt.
But consider relaxing on your front porch a couple of nights a week instead of in the back yard. Wave to the neighbors out jogging or walking their dogs.
Again, this goes hand-in-hand with being present. Instead of watching your children play in the back yard, consider moving them around to the front yard!
Pass out baked goods (or donuts, if you don’t bake)
Now here is something tangible and fun you can do!
When we were community coordinators, we set up at the entrance to the apartment complex with milk and donuts! I cannot tell you how excited people were.
Yes, some will drive right on by, but others (if you’ve been present, maybe?) will recognize you and be delighted to take a donut! You can bid them a blessed day and eat a donut or two yourself.
Host a pancake breakfast
Pancakes are like neighbor magnets! Everyone loves pancakes and … if it’s free, they’ll come. Everyone loves free food!
We hosted a neighborhood pancake once a month when we lived in the apartment complex, and we’re gearing up for another one soon in our new neighborhood. I can’t wait!
Not sure how to host a neighborhood pancake breakfast? Check out this post.
Invite neighbors over for dinner
Go out on a limb, be brave, and invite a neighbor over for dinner.
Over the Christmas break, a sweet couple down the road from us invited us along with our next door neighbor over for a Caribbean Christmas Party! I had never met them, but we didn’t turn down the invitation to meet them!
You never know who might say, “Yes!”
If you have a neighborhood directory, you can call or email them. My husband is the type to just walk up to your door and knock. He’s not afraid of awkward moments. I love him for it!
Organize a progressive dinner
This is a fun idea when you get to know 3-5 families in your neighborhood.
A few years ago, we were invited to take part in a progressive dinner, and though I had no idea what to expect, it was a lot of fun. You just divvy up appetizers, salad, main course, dessert, and drinks. Or some other fun variation you come up with! Each family takes a course, and you go from house-to-house dining together.
No one family has to make the entire meal, and you get to check out each others’ homes in the process.
Have an ice cream party
Set up in the front yard on a hot summer day and invite the neighborhood over for ice cream sundaes.
Make it casual – come as you are, stay as long as you like!
Being intentional to love your neighbors doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to be available, open to the leading of the Spirit, and willing to step outside your comfort zone just a little bit. I promise the more you step out in faith, the easier it will get. As you slow down and consider those around you, God will open your eyes to new and fun ways to get to know your neighbors!