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Time to Connect

time-to-conect-featured-imageThree years ago I wrote an article called “Summer Welcoming,” where I personally wondered, “By the end of the summer, will I know my neighbors? Will we have many of them in our home in the next few months? Will we take risks to connect, even with those who are different from us?”

Bill and I were new to our neighborhood and our city, and we saw this move as an opportunity to start fresh without many obligations. So we intentionally reserved time to connect with neighbors.

What happened?

Before I tell you, ponder this question: “This summer, how can I grow in relationship with people where I live, work, or play?"  Here are some ideas:

  1. Invite someone to eat lunch with you. Brown bag it together at work or sit on the back patio together or _____________ (fill in the blank), and learn that person’s stories. Try asking, “What three or four events have shaped your life?”
  2. Sit on the porch in the cool of the evening with glasses and a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea for anyone who walks by. If your kids are outside playing, hang out with them and talk to neighbors who happen by.
  3. Take walks around the neighborhood. Plan to stop and talk if you get the chance. Ask people where they are from, what brought them to this place, what hobbies they enjoy. Listen lots!
  4. Host a neighborhood barbecue—potluck-style. The ideas in the Q Place resource Neighborhood Cookouts make it easy. (In Gurnee, IL, ten churches have set a goal this summer to host 100 backyard barbecues with neighbors!)
  5. Arrange playdates with neighborhood kids and get to know their mothers. Build common ground.
  6. Participate in neighborhood events like Fourth of July parades. Be seen in the neighborhood.
  7. Host a family movie night (with popcorn) or a picnic at a nearby park.
  8. Introduce yourself to new neighbors with a plate of goodies, and offer to help them get to know your area.
  9. Host a dessert night to get to know neighbors. You could provide ice cream and ask others to bring toppings. For a fun way to get to know people, use The Complete Book of Questions (lower numbers) as a game. (Whoever wants to participate picks a number, but no one has to answer any question they don’t want to answer.)
  10. For the ambitious: Host a concert in your yard using a local band. Serve snacks and drinks. Or plan a neighborhood block party. Block off the street, put out grills, and hang out.

So how did we do that summer?

Well, in the evenings we sat on the front porch and talked with people who went by. We also stopped to talk while we were out walking. (Our community mailbox helped with that!) Bill went on a bike ride with a neighbor. I took walks with a neighbor and had another one over for tea and got to know her story. We often took our grandkids swimming and talked with neighbors who were at the pool. We also went with neighbors to a city council meeting and to a neighborhood BBQ. That summer there were lots of random connections, and by summer’s end, we did know a lot of neighbors. Since then, the relationships have continued to build through many activities, and this summer we are confident that we have earned the right to invite many of them to a 6-week summertime Q Place!

How will you take advantage of this summer to connect with people—especially those who might be open to spiritual conversations?

Fran Goodrich
Q Place Blog Editor