10 Simple Ways to Meet Your Neighbors This Summer
- Brad Brisco
- 2016 7 Jul
National surveys reveal that less than half of the American populace know their neighbors. It is sad to consider that many people live for years in an apartment complex or neighborhood without so much as knowing their neighbors’ names.
As Jesus followers—people of the Good News—we follow the one who said that the most important commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. What if Jesus meant our literal neighbors? What if Jesus was telling us that we should love the people who live right next door? What if he was commanding us to love those who live in the houses up and down our street?
But how do we begin to love those whom we have never met? The key is that we must be intentional. New relationships seldom happen by chance. Here are some simple ways to reach out and actually get to know your neighbors by name.
1. Pray for your neighbors.
Someone has said, “We need to talk to God about people, then talk to people about God.” If you have a neighborhood directory, use it to identify the names of each family member in your building, on your street, or in your cul-de-sac. Make a “love your neighbor” list that you can use to pray for each family with whom you seek to build a relationship. This list will help you move from simply hoping to reach some nameless neighbor in the future, to taking specific action aimed at building a new relationship.
2. Be outside.
After dinner take a walk in your neighborhood with an eye toward meeting people. Play with your kids in the front yard instead of the backyard. Speaking personally, some of the best opportunities for our family to meet our neighbors have come from playing baseball and Frisbee in our street. Playing games in the front yard acted as a magnet many times for kids in the neighborhood, and inevitably parents would follow.
3. Organize a garage sale.
Have a garage sale at your house and ask your neighbors if they have anything they would like to sell. We found that in many cases, neighbors not only brought over items to sell but also would spend time “working” the sale, creating opportunities to begin brand-new relationships and deepen existing ones.
4. Invite people for dessert.
One of the best ways to get to know your neighbors is to have them over for dinner. However, we have found that inviting people over for dessert is less work and often less threatening from their perspective. Dessert is less formal and requires a much smaller time commitment. So the first time you have someone over, simply invite them to join you for dessert after dinner.
5. Have a cookout.
Everybody loves to eat, and few people will turn down the chance to cook out on the grill and sample other people’s favorite dishes. You will discover that some of the best-attended get-togethers will be backyard (or front-yard) cookouts.
6. Ask others for advice.
Everyone has differing talents and areas of expertise. One way of getting to know your neighbors is to ask for advice in a person’s area of giftedness. For example, some people have expertise in teaching musical instruments, and others are handy men and women who have tools to share. The point is to recognize there are untapped gifts and resources in every neighborhood that simply need to be “mined,” or found, and shared. In most cases you will discover that people are quick to share, not only what they have but also what they know.
7. Join a community cause.
Find out if your neighborhood has a homeowners’ association. If so, join in on neighborhood workdays, or find an associational committee on which you can participate. Find out if there is a neighborhood directory, and if not, offer to put one together for those on your street.
8. Host an open house.
Host a “come and go” appetizer or dessert party where people can meet and greet neighbors as they sample a variety of foods. Also take advantage of special times in the year to invite the neighborhood over for food and fun. Most people are very open to attending a party around the Christmas season.
9. Watch for special needs.
Be on the lookout for special needs. Offer to babysit or pet-sit. Help to maintain yardwork while neighbors are on vacation. Or maybe simply offer to keep an eye on a neighbor’s home while they are out of town.
10. Build social momentum with a consistent gathering.
Create time and space on a weekly (or at least monthly) basis for events that you can invite people to. This can be a regular game night, a gathering around the fire pit, a potluck, or some other type of “party.” Without a consistent get-together to invite new acquaintances to, it will be nearly impossible to build social momentum. When we do, however, we will reach a point where we not only know our neighbors by name but also discover specifically how we can really love them as well.
Publication date: July 7, 2016