The Art of Neighboring

Don’t miss those opportunities to be a good neighbor

The Art of Neighboring
Photo by Avi Waxman / Unsplash

One main priority I have when I move to a new home, or a new state is to get to know the people around me. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes that can be difficult. We live in a world that has attached garages. People leave their garage and pull into their garage as soon as they get home, and you never see them. Gone, for the most part, are the days of the front porch, where you sit and say “hello” to your neighbors as they take an evening stroll.

My first experience with this was when I was church planting in Elgin, Illinois. We lived in an apartment complex, so I had to get creative to meet my neighbors. I would sit out on my back porch hoping somebody would come by so I could meet them.  What I noticed was the frequency of people moving in and moving out. I decided I would help people move on my days off work. 

While walking around my apartment complex, I saw a couple moving in. I offered to help them, and of course, they took me up on that offer. I began helping them move in and naturally, a conversation was started. Their names were Mike and Kathy.  They were engaged to be married and had older children.  We talked about many things: from life, to hobbies, to eventually spiritual things. By the end of the day, I had invited them to check out our church plant, and they accepted the invitation. Honestly, I was a bit surprised to see them the following Sunday at church. Mike and I became friends. Ultimately, I was able to lead Mike and Kathy to Christ and had the awesome privilege of baptizing them. If we are having trouble meeting our neighbors, we must get creative and find new ways to meet those who live around us.

In Cornville, it has been a bit easier to meet our neighbors. Most people here do not have garages, which makes it easier to meet neighbors. When we moved back to Cornville, I knew I needed to meet as many people around me as possible. So, I sat on my front porch and started talking to the people walking down our street. This has allowed me to become friends with my neighbor who lives across the street and many of our other neighbors on our street. This last Christmas most of us exchanged gifts with each other. We are available to help each other out the minute someone needs it.

This is my definition of neighboring. It’s an opportunity to meet those around you, a time to begin to dig into people’s lives, and finally, share the gospel with them.

Let me share with you some simple ways you can intentionally meet your neighbors:

1.  Get Creative

Over the years, I have found that each neighborhood is different.  Once I discover what the culture of the neighborhood is like, now I can use my creativity to meet them:  from helping people move into their apartments, from grilling in my front yard and inviting my neighbors to join me for some burgers, from saying “Hello” while I sit on my front porch. All these ways have served me well over the years. 

Pro tip: you can’t lose if food is involved.  I remember when we invited our neighbors over for a weekend cookout. We had no idea if anybody would show. I decided to pull the grill out front and just start cooking We had set up games for the kids and adults to play. It wasn’t long and about 50 of our neighbors showed up.  All people we had never met before. This provided opportunities to build bridges and begin personal friendships. Additionally, we were able to invite them to church.

2.  Always Be Ready

I remember one year we had a terrible snowstorm.  The street was filled with snow and people were having a hard time getting down the road.  Several people from our neighborhood and I began working together.   Armed with our shovels and 4-wheel drive vehicles, we started pulling people down the road to their homes or digging them out of a ditch. This would not have been possible if we had not met each other before the storm. We were all ready to help at a moment’s notice.

This provided us with another chance to meet new people and invite more people to our church. To use our mission statement, we were just trying to “Make Jesus Known”. People could not believe we were outside in the middle of a snowstorm helping people and having a great time doing it.

 3.  Pray for Opportunities

The last thing we need to do is pray for opportunities. When I wake up in the morning one of the things, I try to do every day, is to ask God to put opportunities in my path. I pray that I won’t miss those opportunities either.

Have you ever seen one of your neighbors outside, maybe struggling to get some work done and you know you should go help, but you don’t? Don’t miss those opportunities to be a good neighbor. Don’t miss those God-appointed opportunities to connect with someone that God has put in your path, where you could “Make Jesus Known” in their life.


There was a song where one of the lines said, “You might be the only Jesus someone sees.” I have tried to live my life by that line. I might be the only Jesus someone sees. You might be the only Jesus someone sees. So, let’s get out and “Make Jesus Known” to our neighbors.