Jul 31, 2011

100 ways to engage your neighbourhood

Tim Keller has written

There are only two kinds of churches;

One kind says to its community: ‘You can come to us, learn our language, learn our interests, become like us and meet our needs.

The other kind says to its community: ‘We will come to you, learn your language, learn your interests, join in your life and try to meet your needs.’

It is pretty obvious which approach will do most to gain the gospel a hearing as we take Christ to the world.

Josh Reeves is planting a church in Round Rock, Texas. There’s nothing like planting a church to stretch your thinking as to how you and the church family can make the most of opportunities to develop community relationships.

Recently I made a list of 100 ways to engage your neighborhood. I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me in order to be a better neighbor. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

  • In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people
  • Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.
  • Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed.

For a look at Josh’s top 100 ideas visit here


  • Could you help us with some contextualisation to Brum, Neil? What have you found helpful in engaging your neighbourhood around Shenley Fields?

    • I think it all amounts to neighbourliness in your own community. Where I live I don’t think it is a natural aspect of community life to chat with your neighbour but it is possible and I’ve found folk friendly once you’e taken the initiative. Two of my neighbours have come to church events and one second world war veteran came to a Christmas meal at the church simply because I would always say hello if I saw him coming to and from the paper shop and then try to ask something.

      So how do you make that first contact with a neighbour? Depends on your personality I guess. The most direct is to simply knock the door and introduce yourself. We have a grass verge outside our house and that makes it easy to spot people and chat when maybe washing the car.

      Now that we have kids its much easier because they are quick to make friends and play and that draws parents into conversation.

      I visit the same shops and with Asian folk tend to ask about family. Our postman is from Pakistan and I always ask him how his family are when I get the chance.

      In our community people don’t eat together but B-B-Qs are the exception. Maybe our challenge is to put one on over the summer.

      Christmas drinks and mince pies I think can work. giving Christmas cards is a must and an easy way to make sure you’ve got all the family names right!

      Lending and borrowing things gives excuses and opportunities to knock on doors.

      Watching each others homes whilst away is also very much appreciated as well as taking in parcels, etc.

      Hope that’s a start. Off to church.

      • Thanks, Neil – that’s really helpful. Somehow just more helpful to hear those ideas from someone you know than to read a pdf from America, even if some of the ideas are the same! :) I did a Christmas afternoon neighbour gathering last year, with craft for the kids, etc., and the St Stephen’s members across the road followed it up with an Easter one – serving nicely to develop community more.

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