While your neighbors might be thrilled with the idea of you cleaning their home, that may not be the most practical idea. Some Christian families get over-zealous trying to evangelize their neighborhood. Others tend to just keep to themselves. Neither approach is very effective in sharing your faith. Just being a good neighbor and showing interest in their lives can speak volumes. Be a friend first, evangelize later. However, here are 10 other ideas to help you get started:
Make a point to welcome new neighbors as soon as you can. When you see the U-Haul truck coming, offer to help unload. Bake some chocolate chip cookies or a main dish, gather up all of your family, and walk over to their home to introduce yourself. Don’t stay unless you really hit it off. The simple gesture and short visit will speak for itself.
Smile and Wave
This is almost instinctual, and yet, many people don’t even look at their neighbors when they walk by their home. Even if they don’t wave to you when you drive by, do it anyway for them. Eventually you’ll wear them down.
Wash the Car
The next time you’re washing your car and you see your neighbor’s car in their driveway, allow a little time to wash both. Or, how about when you’re pulling weeds in the front year, pull a few of theirs, too. Whether they catch you in the act or not, the surprise will still mean the same.
Watch the Kids
Treat your neighbor’s children like your own, even if you don’t have any. If you see one fall off her bike, be the first one there to help pick her up and bandage any scrapes. Offer to watch your next door neighbor’s children when they have an errand to run. More than likely, they’ll return the favor.
Don’t Wait for an Invitation
If you see your neighbor unloading a heavy item from their car, run over there and offer to help them with it. If they are painting their house with a short ladder and you have a larger one, offer it to them to use. While you’re at, offer to help paint. Don’t wait for them to ask you to help. More than likely they will be too shy to ask. Some of the best conversations come out times like that.
Pizza and a Movie
On the spur of the moment, see if one of your neighbors would like to join your family for pizza and the latest family-friendly flick. This isn’t the time to share that “Gospel of Luke” movie. Just pick something “safe” that will make everyone feel comfortable. If it goes well, maybe you can show the other film next time.
Decorate for the Holidays
Some Christians try to make a statement by not celebrating any holiday. You don’t need to decorate your house with skeletons or witches for Halloween – or a big blow up Santa for Christmas. Just a few simple pumpkins or some nice holiday lights strung on your gutter will do. By participating in the holiday spirit, you’ll show your neighbors that you’re approachable and friendly.
Host a Block Party
A great way to get to know your neighbors is to host a block party during late spring or summer. Plan a weekend or two and then poll your neighbors on which date works best for them. When the date is settled, photocopy an invite and have your kids hand them out. Offer your grill to cook hamburgers and hot dogs and see if your neighbors will all bring dishes to share with each other.
Speak Highly of Them
Neighbors are notorious for spreading gossip. Be the one who breaks the chain. However, the next time that a neighbor has a juicy story to share, don’t be so bold as to say, “I don’t want to hear any gossip.” You’ll either make them feel bad or angry. When they complain about a fellow housewife, instead of agreeing with the complaint, turn the conversation around by stating what that lady does right. It works.
Invite Them to Church
If you’ve done the first nine, then you’re ready for the “biggie.” If you have made an impact with your neighbors with the rest, they will be more likely to trust that you won’t be taking them to a “turn or burn” church. If they refuse, just shrug it off. You can always invite them another time.