Being Intentional in Your Neighborhood

Something that has been on our heart a lot lately is reaching our neighborhood. Although we have been in the neighborhood since August of 2013, we barely knew any of our neighbors until recently. One of the goals of our missional community (which we host in our home) is to be more missional in the neighborhood. This includes hosting a neighborhood party each quarter. This has encouraged us to be really intentional about trying to make more connections and serve people well.

When I was first trying to explore options for reaching out to people in our neighborhood, I couldn't find a lot on the topic. We're both huge introverts and although we are pretty friendly and hospitable, I had no idea where to start (without totally freaking people out). However, through trial and error over the last six months or so, we have begun to make some headway in our neighborhood. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things that have worked well for us.

I do want to point out that the goal here is not just to be friendly, but to be missional. To serve and love on our neighbors in the way that God has served and loved us.

How we have been more intentional in our neighborhood:
1) We started a Facebook group for the neighborhood. This was a really easy way to start getting people connected. We created a group and then made some small fliers to pass out to the homes in the neighborhood. This has been really successful. There are about 100 homes in our area, and nearly 50 people have joined the group. So far, the group has been used to: find a home for a lost kitty, connect a single dad with other parents in the neighborhood, and begin coordination on our annual neighborhood garage sale. I will say that this was only intended to be a starting place and to facilitate further face-to-face contacts.

2) Increasing visibility. We have done a few things to increase our presence in the neighborhood. I already walk our dog a lot, so I have been trying to keep this up, especially since the weather is getting nicer. We also bought patio furniture for our front patio and have been trying to eat dinner out front more often.

3) Serve. Last December, we threw a neighborhood party. This was close to Christmas, the weather was cold, and it was before we created the Facebook group. Only a few households came but it was still a great way to serve our neighbors.

For Easter this year, I made goodie bags for kids and dogs in the neighborhood. This was really easy and I don't think I spent more than $40 to make nearly 40 bags total. I posted about them on our Facebook page asking who would like them. This allowed us to personally bring the bags to our neighbors and get to meet them face to face. I think we've now met nearly a dozen of our neighbors that we didn't know before.

We recently had some neighbors move in across the street from us. To welcome them, we brought over some cookies and dog bones (we noticed they had dogs). We've already had them over for lunch since meeting them and are looking forward to getting to know them better.

Last, we are planning another party for next month and we're hoping that since the weather will be nicer and we have been able to give a little more warning via the Facebook page, that we will have a better turnout.

Since doing these things, we have noticed a huge shift in the posture of our neighborhood and we are super excited. We've noticed more visibility of people generally, people intentionally talking to each other while out walking, more friendly waves as people drive by, and so on. We aren't taking credit for this but are thrilled nonetheless!

How do you practice intentionality in your own neighborhood? What has worked well and what hasn't?

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