Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions Why Showing Up Matters to Your Neighbors

Why Showing Up Matters to Your Neighbors

You may have friends in sitcom-worthy neighborhoods who host Martha-Stewart caliber block parties. They pile out onto the curb together to watch parades or gather in a clearing to take in the local fireworks.

But maybe the whole time your friends are recounting their love-my-neighbor bliss, you’re struggling to scrape up the name of the guy who has lived next door to you for six years. It’s Hank. Or Hal. Maybe Harold. Definitely one of the three. (You contemplate checking his mail someday when he’s not home, even though this may be a federal offense.)

Or maybe your neighborhood is more the nod-on-the-way-out-the-driveway type. And the last street-wide barbecue that graced your parts was the time that lady one street over caught her yard on fire while burning leaves.

If that’s your scenario, then you have to look for simple events.

Really simple, non-invitation events. Non-events.

Like a garage or yard sale sign, a lemonade stand, some furniture, or a bike set out by the curb for sale.

These signs are permission giving. They say, “Come over and look at our items.” And stopping by, even for a few minutes on the way in from the mailbox, also gives you the chance to introduce yourself and express positive interest in what they’re doing.

And who knows, maybe you’ll find a replica of that 80s hair band poster you had in the second grade while you’re at it.

I make a rule never to pass the chance to interact with neighbors, especially kids. I might as well own stock in the concept of the lemonade stand. This has earned me many cups of lemonade–of various quality and size–and in one case, a couple of stalks of rhubarb (which I hate) from two very determined adolescent entrepreneurs with a megaphone.

[Do you have an idea or suggestion for getting to know your neighbors or other community members in your town? I’d love to hear it in the comment section.]  

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Sarah is the author of "Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation," "Picking Dandelions" and her newest title, "The Well Balanced World Changer."