Want to know a secret? I’m horrible at getting to know my neighbors. Sure I write about easy ways to connect with your neighbors but the truth is I’m really bad at it. There are a lot of reasons for this but I’ll share my top three: I’m an introvert, I’m scared, and it’s not easy. Do any of those resonate with you? If so I have a simple solution for getting to know your neighbors. I like to call it “front yard living room.”
My husband and I stumbled upon this strategy purely on accident. We moved to a home without a front porch. In our previous home we had enjoyed many evenings on the front porch either talking, watching a favorite show on our laptop, or enjoying drinks with friends. So instead of relegating ourselves to the back yard at this new home we simply set up our swing and fire pit in the front yard.
Little did we know that our little “front yard living room” would be a great way to meet with people and engage with neighbors on a less than friendly street. People are more willing to say hello when you’re lingering in the front yard and are harder to ignore. Also neighbors are more likely to engage in conversation with you in this approachable casual setting.
Are you ready to get to know your neighbors and engage your neighborhood on a regular basis? Here are my four simple steps for setting up your own “front yard living room:”
Joy is a missionary to Downtown Orlando with her husband, Jason, and drool covered Bassett Hound, Sam. She has a degree in Church Leadership and formerly helped manage the Church Planting office of Converge Worldwide. She teaches women how to intersect their faith and life through intentional missional living at joybrudolph.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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2/18/2014 09:24:08 pm
Wow - this is so simple but so effective. I, too, struggle with being friendly to neighbors. Partly because we're so busy doing "ministry" elsewhere, but it is an apparent contradiction to neglect those on either side of us. What a great reminder. I love the emphasis on hospitality!
2/18/2014 10:46:25 pm
Thanks, Melissa. It's really simple but also really effective. Plus you make little to no changes to your regular schedule.
Yes! This is just right. I love the idea of expanding the home to the front yard. This is especially true if you don't like to have clean up the clutter in order to be friendly. :) Still looking for a similar idea for those of us who are Northerners and have less options outdoors throughout the year. Have you or your readers heard of good ways to engage college students? As of now, they tend to move to the other side of the street if we're outside. I've tried being welcoming over the years, but most don't want to connect with "parent-aged" peeps. Hee. Hee. We've toyed around with the idea of creating a block party...close off the street, set up a grill and bring on the tunes. Risky business, being neighborly... <3 Thx for your post!
2/18/2014 11:13:47 pm
Kris, I think the block party is a great idea or even a simple grill and tables set up in the front yard. I think the key in either situation would be some simple invitations. Throw some flyers together and as you pass them out you may even get to make some personal introductions. You can explain that you want to get to know them and you're not "scary old people." If they ask why you can explain that you want to share Christ's love (if that works in your demographic right out of the gate). I don't work in a college setting but a lot of our other contributors do and they might be able to weigh-in on this better.
2/19/2014 09:41:51 am
2/20/2014 02:56:51 am
2/19/2014 01:31:06 am
Thank you, Jerralea. I hope it gets you thinking about way to connect with your neighbors.
2/19/2014 02:17:18 am
What a great idea and challenge.........thank you for sharing this. Gentle Joy
2/19/2014 05:34:54 am
Thank you and you're welcome!
2/19/2014 03:15:49 am
When we moved into our new home, in a new state, it was not hard getting to know our neighbors. First off we live in the country on a dead end road, everyone knows who belongs here. My husband is a walker, and sometimes I walk with him. Well we were approached by a man one day obviously curious about who we were, and what we were doing on this road. Other neighbors were meet through my husband walking, and he would introduce me to them. There is only a couple of people on the road we have never talked to. I love the family feeling we have on our road, everyone looks out for everyone.
2/19/2014 05:37:24 am
Yes, Joyce, walking is another simple and practical way to get to know your neighbors. I love that you connect with them all even in a more rural setting. You're proof of how easy missional living can be if you just live your life with intention.
I love this idea. Sadly, I've lived in my home for almost 6 years and have only met about three of the families in my neighborhood. I think we'll give your idea a try as soon as the weather warms up.
2/20/2014 10:58:05 pm
I'd love to hear how it works out for your, Molly.
2/20/2014 10:48:39 am
Such great ideas! We have a very active neighborhood and even so it is hard to stop and take time to love on our neighbors. We need to remember to invest in their lives.
2/20/2014 10:59:11 pm
Absolutely, Angela. It's not easy but it is worth it.
Have recently moved twice in the last three years, I can tell you it is very hard to be the new kid on the block.
2/22/2014 06:27:56 am
Great ideas and great point, Cyndee. Thanks for sharing.
2/21/2014 10:01:40 am
My mind is working on how to adopt this for our yard in the country. We don't get a lot of foot traffic (no sidewalks). But when you drive by someone's house and they are out in the yard, it is customary to honk or wave and vice versa.
2/22/2014 06:32:07 am
LuAnn, would it work to let your neighbors know that whenever you're in the front yard they have an open invitation? Perhaps you have a standing night that you open your "front yard living room" each week. Maybe bake a dessert every Tuesday or have a fire every Friday. I can't wait to hear how you implement this in your rural setting.
2/22/2014 10:10:09 am
Since it's too cold here for front yard/porch approach much of the year, we have done Christmas block parties at our house several times and had positive responses to those.
2/24/2014 02:22:00 am
Great idea, Jan. That sounds like a great start to having intentional relationships with your neighbors.
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