One of the best ways to reach the community we serve is to offer families what they can not do on their own or may be way more complicated to make happen on their own like…
CPR/Basic First Aid Training – Contact the local American Red Cross and get on their schedule for a Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning. Local scouts, parents, and local businesses need CPR and basic first aid training. Roll out the hospitality red carpet, get registration information to build your community database, and make your space bright, clean, and warm. Contact the local daycares and local businesses to let them know you will be offering it with a face-to-face invite.
A Last Gift of Love – Organize a basic informational meeting or four separate mini 45-minute- to 1-hour gatherings with an attorney about the laws on wills and powers-of-attorney; a financial planner about beneficiaries; a funeral director about what to do when a loved-one dies; local senior services; life, health, long-term-care insurance instruction. Promote this to young families by letter or postcard to help begin the conversations of taking care of their parents as well as their children. So many of my local church’s young parents are dealing with these issues right now and they don’t even know where to begin. When my mother-in-law passed away suddenly several years back, I was so grateful for prior general conversations with a congregant who was an estate attorney to help us know where to begin. I am forever grateful.
Driving Practice – Put out a dozen orange traffic cones and offer driving and parking practice or a space/time for families in the evening in your large parking lot. Offer water bottles and lawn chairs for chatting. Be sure to offer a prayer over the learner’s permit and the driver’s license when it’s earned. What a milestone to share with a local family! Promote with yard signs.
Playground playdates – offer a regular, intentional time for preschool children to come to play with their parents/grandparents when you can be there to let the kids play and make space for conversations about what every preschool parent deals with such as nighttime routines, picky eaters, pediatricians, where shoes are on sale, etc. Set the time for 1 hour – 1.5 hours and offer a prayer time to close out your time together. Over time, regular routines, growing trust relationships, enjoying some laughter. Not a drop off, but rather a drop in. If you have a preschool or daycare, you’ll have easy promotional avenues.
College/Job Application skills – enlist the help of a college professor who might be in your church for their partnership.
Home Improvement Classes – enlist the help of a general contractor in your church to teach basic home improvement skills for kids WITH their parents and grandparents for measuring, leveling, hanging drywall or spackling, painting, trimming bushes, community container gardening.
Each one of these can neighborly extend the love when you….
- Purchase honorarium gift cards for your instructors at local businesses and tell the business why you are purchasing the gift cards. Shop local and let the local business know you will be sending someone their way with the gift card.
- Shop local. Find a mom & pop or local family business to support. These are the folks who are feeding their families directly from your business. Come from a place of generosity rather than ‘what can you give me?’
- Find out when the local community will be offering a farmer’s market (spring/summer) and holiday parade (summer/Christmas) and go through the paperwork to walk in the parade or offer a ‘station’ in the kid’s area. Find the community calendar online for your town and invest in a plastic A-frame sign or table cloth with your church or children’s ministry logo to set up then prepare to chat with folks about their lives wearing a church t-shirt. Use a local vendor for your t-shirts.
- Discover the ‘walking’ schedule of the local neighborhood nearest your church, then invite a couple of church members (Jesus never sent out His disciples one at a time, but rather two, three, and up to seventy) to join you for a walk. Load up a rolling cooler with iced down freezer pops, safety scissors to clip the tops, and a side trash bag to collect the empties. Stroll as you roll and start some conversations fully intending to make some new friends of your new neighbors as being a frequent walker in the neighborhood. You can’t walk every neighborhood, but you could certainly dedicate March & April to one and learn it deeply. Pray for each home you walk pass and consider writing a blessing on the sidewalk (not their driveway UNLESS you know them, then by all means!).
Gentle Reminder: Registration will probably be last minute and may be small. Do it anyway to build trust with your neighbors that your yes will be yes and your no will be no. If you promote it, do it. Promote it at least 60-days out with the understanding that it may take families a while to budget their time to build in the margin to make the registration.
We all need new friends. We all need a good walk. We all should be learning new things. We all learn better together.
What other ideas do you have to be a good neighbor?