Don’t you remember when you were younger and you played with the neighbors kids?
Growing up, I used to the know all of the kids within a “three house radius”. We would all get together on the half cul-de-sac that we lived on and ride our bikes and scooters together. I don’t live there anymore, so I don’t remember their names, but to be honest, I don’t know any of the neighbors I live next to now.
Neighbors are actually a great opportunity to show others what it means to follow Christ, but sometimes, I can be a bit awkward reaching out. Here are five ideas to reach out to your neighbors sometime within the next month.
- Are one of your neighbors expecting? Having a baby is hard (especially for a first time mom). Your neighbor may or may not have family nearby to help them. If you don’t know them too well, offering to babysit might sound a bit weird (I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anybody who offered), but there are other ways to love on new parents. The obvious would be purchasing a gift for them (gender neutral baby clothes, diapers, wipes, a baby toy, etc). I would recommend a gift basket with a little bit of everything if you want to go that route. If you’re strapped for cash, a great idea would be cooking a meal for them to put in their freezer.
- Is there an upcoming holiday? Christmas might be the most obvious of “gift giving” holidays, but you can make neighbor gifts for pretty much any holiday. Churches tend to have special services and events for holidays too, so you can also include an invite card from your church in the gift.
- Are they in need of some yard work? This wouldn’t apply so much if you live in an apartment complex, but look out to see if your neighbors need work down around the house. Have they waited a while to cut the grass? Offer to cut it yourself or have a landscaping person cut it for them (with their permission, of course). Do they need a power wash? Offer to pay for one. Do they have a broken light outside in a high place? Offer to replace it for them. Is Christmas coming up? Offer to put up their lights for them. Any act of service, no matter how small, matters.
- Do they have young children? I said earlier that I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anybody, but there are other ways to serve parents of young children. You could try to organize a play date, either at your house or at a park of some sort. If it’s just you and another person, why not invite them into your home and serve them lunch? If your house isn’t child-proof, another idea would be to invite them to a local play place (something like Chuck E. Cheese or an inflatable playground like Jumparoos) and treat them and their kids to lunch (and coffee for the parents). Another idea would be purchasing a gift card from a toy store/kids clothing store and leaving it in their mailbox with a “Thinking of You” card.
- If all else fails, a random act of kindness won’t. The truth is, you don’t need an occasion to be kind. These are all great ideas, but if you randomly want to serve them in some way, there are plenty of ideas for that. Everyone can appreciate a Starbucks gift card (or even a Visa gift card). If you see their trash is at their door (and there is a community trash can that is far from their house), you can offer to take their trash along with yours to the trash can. You can gift them with a “movie night” gift basket with popcorn, sodas, and candy from the Dollar Tree. The possibilities are endless.
At the end of the day, we love on our neighbors because that is what Christ asks of us. We don’t love with an ulterior motive in mind (i.e. “I’ll love them to convert them”). We just love.
I’ll never forget my last day in Atlanta. My husband, his father, and I were all packing our boxes into the moving van, preparing for our long drive to Phoenix. A random neighbor saw the moving van and thought we were moving in. She walked up to our door and “welcomed us” into the neighborhood. She was a Christian mom, about my age, with a daughter about the age of my eldest daughter. She also happened to be from Miami (which was the strangest thing of them all) as my husband and I are Miami born and bred. Had I known about her previous to our move, I would have loved to get to know her and had playdates for our kids.
I’m terrible at reaching out to people, so I understand it can be a bit hard, but I’m trying to be better at it in 2017. I’m asking that the Lord make me a better neighbor for my neighbors this year and always. Comment below if you’d like me to pray for you to be a better neighbor as well this year (and please add me to your prayer list!).
Grace & Peace always.