A year after settling into our new home, we had the idea to have a little, informal block party and invite the neighbors around us that we knew – about 15 or 20 people.
At the time, I had no grandiose visions of what God could do with that small step; I just thought it would be fun to get some neighbors together.
Four years later, I’m amazed at the community that has grown in our little village of about 200 homes. We now have a Facebook group, a neighborhood watch, running groups, and tons of fun annual events: an Easter egg hunt, 4th of July bike parade, a Christmas Party with Santa (along with Christmas lights competition).
This year, we did a huge Halloween extravaganza where kids picked up treasure maps and followed them around to 12 different stations including: hot chocolate, s’mores, cider, a haunted garage, hayrides, movies and popcorn. We encouraged neighbors to stay outside and organized people as station teams. Not only was the night exceedingly fun for all the kids and adults, it was a huge community builder!
What’s made planning a lot of these events so rewarding are moments like sitting at a Ladies Night Out and a newly divorced woman who just moved to the neighborhood sharing that this is her first time being on her own and literally turning to look each woman in the eyes to thank them for being an open, welcoming community for her.
It’s watching someone’s kid for the day if needed. It’s having someone to get your mail while you’re gone or knowing you can ask for sugar and flour when you’ve run out. It’s watching your kids run around with 10 other kids behind your house and hearing them all laugh and yell from your kitchen window. It’s knowing that help is right next door literally when, not if, you need it.
Along the way, we’ve adapted a few principles that have shaped how we’ve gone about things:
If reading this has piqued your interest, go ahead and do it – set a date for that Block Party. Knowing our neighbors has enriched our lives in more ways than I can express. And if God can use this tired, busy mama with 4 little ones to build community in our neighborhood, He can use you!
What ways have you connected with your neighbors for the sake of the gospel?
For more ideas, go to Cru.org and search for “neighbors.”
*From The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by: Dave Runyon and Jay Pathak. Baker Books. 2012.
A longer version of this article originally appeared on the website Every Square Inch. It is used here with permission.
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