20 Ways to Be Intentional in Your Neighborhood
Loving your neighbors well is possible! Let’s make this summer the summer of being intentional in your neighborhood!
As newlyweds, my husband and I were invited to live in an apartment complex rent free. In exchange, we worked to facilitate community among the neighbors with the ultimate purpose of sharing the good news of the Gospel with them!
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 before ascending into Heaven.
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.
Loving your neighbors well is possible! Let’s make this summer the summer of being intentional!
20 Ways to Be Intentional in Your Neighborhood to Foster a Sense of Community
1. Be present in your neighborhood.
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.
2. Be friendly.
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!
3. Be observant.
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!
4. 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 have it kept tidy, warm and inviting.
Related Content: The Three Main Purposes of the Christian Home
5. 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!
6. 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.
If you bake, you can do the same thing with muffins or after school treats like Snickerdoodles!
7. Host a pancake breakfast for your neighborhood.
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.
8. 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!
If you need some simple meals ideas for hospitality, then check out this post.
Related Content: Hospitality in the Home (What is it really?)
9. 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.
10. 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!
11. Host a neighborhood game night
People love games!
We once hosted an apple-themed party complete with everyone bringing an apple dish or drink, and we played Apples to Apples together.
I think we did it three years in a row before we moved away. It was a lot of fun, and people looked forward to it every year!
You can do cards, board games, or whatever else you enjoy! For the summer, yard games are fun too!
Here’s 15 Games to play as a couple, and a list of our favorites for Family Game Night with a 4 year old.
12. Do a prayer walk
We love taking prayer walks in the evenings.
First, it’s a great way to be present in your neighborhood because you’re out and visible! Second, you’re praying for your neighborhood as you walk.
Pray for the families you know and don’t know. You can pray out loud or silently to yourself. Either way works! If your children are with you, I suggest praying out loud so that they can be a part of the process.
13. Look for ways to serve your neighbors
Can you mow your neighbors yard while you have your lawn mower out? Weed their garden for them? Maybe you can get the mail or carry groceries for someone?
As you work to become more observant, consider ways you can serve your neighbors and help meet practical needs.
14. Double your dinner and share it
So easy! We’ve done this several times.
I will send a quick text to a stay-at-home mom in my neighborhood earlier in the day and say, “I have a pot of chicken noodle soup on the stove. Would you mind if I brought you some in a couple of hours? I made a double batch.”
Rarely has anyone turned me down!
15. Organize a community yard sale
Are you having a yard sale? Consider sending an invite out to your neighbors to join you!
This will increase the odds of having a better yard sale turnout for yourself, and you’ll get to your neighbors out of their house! Win-win!
16. Host a play date
Are there children in your neighborhood? Get them altogether for a simple play date.
Put on a pot of coffee and snag a few treats from the store (or bake them, if you’re good at that … but no pressure!).
Strawberry Chia Muffins and No-Bake Cookies are about the extent of my baking, so I feel ya’! But our inability to bake, doesn’t mean we can’t do something else!
Try to have something special for the other moms (or mom) to just say, “I care about you!”
17. Share a babysitter and go on a double date
Does another family in your neighborhood require babysitters to get a night out? Consider inviting them to share a babysitter and go out together!
Usually babysitters give discounts for add-on children, and you can split the cost between you.
18. Host a neighborhood Bible study
An open Bible study can be a great way to engage your neighbors. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but just open God’s Word and invite others to ask questions or share some of their thoughts about the text.
Related Content: 10 Bible Studies for Women that Are Worth Doing
19. Welcome new neighbors
Did a new family move in next door? Be the first to welcome them!
Consider lending them a hand with some boxes, or make them a a meal and provide some paper utensils while they unpack.
Be a blessing to your new neighbors!
20. Leave a gift basket on someone’s doorstep “just because”
You don’t need a reason to give someone a gift. As you continue observing those in your neighborhood, think about small gifts and ways you can bring a smile to someone’s face.
Our neighbor’s children beg their Mommy to let them make cookies for my children. You should see the shape of those things when they make it to our doorstep, but they are the most delicious cookies because they are made with so much love!
Children are great at thinking of ways to bless others, so involve your children!
Speaking of children! If you’re interested in other ways to teach your toddler or preschooler to serve, I highly recommend Teach Me to Serve eBook. Kristen Summers walks you through 99 ways preschoolers can learn to serve and bless others. Teaching my son to serve others and to develop the heart of hospitality is a passion of mine. This book was helpful in giving me some ideas to guide my son in these early years! You can learn more about it here.
Loving my neighbors, and loving them well, does not come easily to me!
It is way outside my comfort zone.
And though none of these ways to be intentional in my neighborhood come naturally to me, I’ve found that over time it does get easier.
So if you’re in the same boat (or rather, the same comfort zone), be encouraged that you’re not alone!
But don’t stay in your comfortable nest!
Seek to grow! Allow the Lord to change you! Rely on His strength to propel you forward, and pray for His grace to cover you!
Remember – our willingness to step out and love our neighbors isn’t to make us feel better or make us looks good to others.
We seek to be intentional in our neighborhoods in order to be life-givers – because that’s what we are made to do as women, give life! All that we do points to Him!
Being intentional to love your neighbors doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to be available and intentional, 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!
So now it’s your turn! I want to hear what ways you plan to be intentional in your neighborhood this summer!
If you want help slowing down and considering how you can be intentional this summer, click here to download my free Summer Planning Packet.
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What a great list!!! I love the ice cream idea! Can’t wait for the rest of the list. I do have a few questions, have you ever discovered the neighbor who takes advantage of your kindness? If yes, what was your response? I ask because I use to be the unofficial welcome to the neighborhood lady. The last family that moved into our neighborhood, not only took advantage of our family but also the other families in the neighborhood. I hated to start saying no to their request but it got to the point we needed to have an end of supporting their life.
Crisi, this is such a great question! I can definitely see where this is an area of concern, and you’re not the first person to ask me either. Over the years, we often get inquisitive looks and similar questions, and my response is: their response isn’t your problem.
Okay, I know that sounds harsh so let me go a bit further. 🙂 Because my heart is not harsh at all!
It’s hard to have to say, “No.” But we’ve learned that when we give and do, we’re following the Spirit’s lead. We are obedient. Then, we have to trust the Lord with their response, no matter what it is (gratitude, gimme-more attitude, hostility, etc.). You can’t feel guilty for drawing lines and saying, “No.” You have to be faithful to follow the Lord, not the person who is in need. Does that make sense?
Yes, it gets hard and when people see kindness, some can certainly be tempted to take advantage. If you’re able to help, and you feel the stirring of the Spirit to say, “Yes,” then say, “yes!” And then serve with a happy heart! If you are not able, and you know this is not from the Lord, then graciously say, “I would love to help, but I can’t. Maybe consider XYZ.” We always try to give an alternative to whatever the request. If there is none, we just say, “I would love to walk your dog on Monday, but I already have other commitments and wont’ be able to do it. I’m sorry. Maybe next time?”
Because we are to be conduits of grace and love, but we’re not their saviors or their fix-it-all people. Sometimes serving others gets messy. It’s not always easy, is it? It can definitely be frustrating! So go in grace, and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you and be faithful to pray for their solution when you have to say no.
Does that help?
“go in grace” — always the right answer. listening to Jesus is the key but i don’t always hear Him when it’s muddy (muddy can equal: too tired, too stressed, too selfish, too overwhelmed, etc.)
I have been making Amish Friendship bread and sharing with folks in our neighborhood. They really look forward to it especially the little boy next door! We often look after each other’s homes and pets when we go out of town. I am going to make an effort to walk our street more often and visit.
You are a great example of loving your neighbors!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Leigh Ann. That is more helpful than other advice I have received. At first I did feel guilty about saying no, but I couldn’t afford to support their household and mine.
I love love love this post! 🙂 Our family did the exact same thing in an apartment complex and it has marked us in being intentional and purposeful in being a light to our neighborhood. Thank you for sharing this post, I am convinced every believer should be living missionally and considering their neighborhoods/communities a mission field! Already shared this post and the next with our other teams on properties and the Mom’s Group I help coordinate. 😉
Oh thanks for sharing! 🙂
ps I’d like to repost this blog on my Welcome Wednesday hospitality posting sometime – but want your permission?? we are kindred spirits. (:
Sue, you’re welcome to post an excerpt and then give a link for people to come read the rest of the post over here at IBG. Thanks so much for thinking of me! 🙂
I really enjoyed this post. We live in an apartment complex right off of the Army post and basically everyone here is a soldier. I rarely see my neighbors, but when I do I say, “hi.” I have always thought about taking baked goods around to the neighbors, but I’m the opposite of your husband. Knocking on a door and meeting a stranger scares me! I’m just a very shy person who gets really really nervous around new people. But my husband is really good with people, so maybe I should just get him to do it with me!
YES! Let your husband do it with you. If he’s willing it could be so fun to do together! I’m the same as you. This isn’t really where I thrive – random door knocking, handing out baked goods. 😉 But going as a team makes it so much easier!