3 Ways To Meet and Engage Your Neighbor Today
I live in a neighborhood of over a 1,000 single-family homes. My specific neighborhood has 71 homes. My street, 44. I have lived in my neighborhood for close to a year-and-a-half and know the names of the families that live in three of those 44 homes. And that is about as far as my relationship with them goes, I know their names.
While barely knowing their names is a start, that is not where I desire the extent of my relationship with them to be. I would love to know them. Really know them. Their dreams, fears, hopes, and hurts. I want to be able to give them a cup of sugar or break bread with them on the regular. In days past this type of relationship may have simply been assumed. These days, this level of trust and intentional living takes time.
I want to do life with them and be able to share the love of Christ with them as I do.
At the end of 2017 I encouraged the church I serve in to reflect the love of God by loving their neighbor. I told of a idea I had to help me - and my introverted personality - to meet and engage my neighbor. Sadly, I have not done well with this idea. Not because it doesn’t work, but because I did not employ it.
Here is that idea and two others I have thought up and would like to try over the next few months.
GOOGLE MAP OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
In my sermon I talked about how I had entered my address into Google Maps and zoomed in on my neighborhood. Specifically, the six or seven houses around me. I took a screenshot of my computer screen and printed the picture out on my computer. Using the picture as my map of sorts, I now am able to enter my neighbor’s names on to the map as I meet them. I can then reference the map as I learn more about them and add details of their lives to the map. This is now an easy reference point and prayer guide for me to love my neighbors.
TAKE A WALK AFTER DINNER; LEAVE THE PHONE AT HOME
While a seeming majority of Americans are spending more time inside their homes or in their backyards, there are still many opportunities to meet our neighbors out front. Take an undistracted walk around your neighborhood, enjoy the outdoors and keep the phone at home or put away. As you walk the neighborhood say hi to the husband getting the mail after a long day at the office. Or the soccer mom loading the Sienna for soccer practice. Do not worry about striking up a long conversation about life or feel you failed if you don't get a chance to invite them to church. Those conversation will come. To start, simply smile and say, “Hi”. The conversation will grow as it can from there.
TAKE A BREAK AND RELAX WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS
I know for some of you reading this the thought of spending time with strangers may sound exhausting and the complete opposite of relaxing. But give it a try. People are naturally more at ease and open to conversation when they are comfortable and relaxed. Here are some easy ways to relax with your neighbors:
- Grab a friend and go to the neighborhood pool to read your latest book or magazine there. Skip being alone in the backyard and open up the possibilities of meeting new friends in a relaxed atmosphere!
- Take your kids to the local park and meet the parents or grandparents of the other kids playing. If you do not have any kids, ask to take your neighbors kids to the park for them (so mom or dad can have a break) or tag along when they go.
- Have a game night. This is super simple to plan and execute. You can purchase board or cards games pretty cheap. Have dinner on your own beforehand and simply provide some chips or easy snacks for refreshments. Competition typically brings out the true character of people and this is a easy way to get to know someone quickly and understand better how to care and love them well.
There are just a few of the variety of ways to meet and engage your neighbors today. Because we live in an ever-connected and moving world we need to be more intentional about how we get to know our neighbors. While social media may help to introduce us to them, we would be hard-pressed to say we could truly know someone through a screen. It takes intention and a some work. But the pay-off is great. You not only learn more about someone else, but you will get to learn more about who you are.
Reflecting the love of God as you do.