“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” – Jesus (Mark 12:31).
This is a helpful post at the TGC Blog on how to love your neighbor with gospel intentionality. I certainly will pray and think with my wife what we should do with it.
Given those realities, I would like to make a radical suggestion. The suggestion is not that knowing the neighbors should be important to Christians. The radical thesis I would like to present is: actually get it on your calendar for next month, and make that a habit.
To help you do that, let us conclude with a few tried and tested practical suggestions.
1.) Invite everyone. That is, invite a large group of people, either your whole apartment building or your whole block. This will avoid the impression that you want to build a clique. It gives you a much higher chance for success. And it usually just makes the evening much more enjoyable.
2.) Spend money on nice flyers or invitations. For our first get-together, I spent a few hours with InDesign and made full-color flyers that had a picture of a tasteful dinner scene and the words, “We think it’s too bad we’ve never met all our neighbors.” People want to know your intentions, and they like to be invited to nice events. Do them the honor. It makes a difference.
3.) Plan the get together for a Sunday. This is not an absolute, but few people have major commitments on a Sunday at 1:30 p.m., which means more can come and fewer have to rush off. Try to plan ahead by at least three weeks.
4.) Learn how to actively listen before you invite friends and neighbors over. Not only will you not have to prepare “entertainment” for these people, but if you are truly interested in who they are and don’t squash conversation as it happens, the entertainment will take care of itself.
5.) Involve any of the other neighbors you can (potluck, progressive dinner). This helps ensure that they show up, and it also means they will feel more invested. Hopefully it will keep them from thinking you are trying to be some kind of social control freak.
6.) Be transparent about your faith. When we first met with our neighbors, many were excited that we’d taken such a bold step. In that moment, I simply said: “This is something Christians value.” And in that one sentence, I had made my faith known and given all credit for something which the people openly liked about us to Christianity. Plain-spoken honesty is the best, and most effective, way to live with your neighbors.
You cannot love your neighbors if you don’t know them. Get it on the calendar and have fun.
Read the whole thing.
If you don’t do this, do take time to intentionally plan on how you can get to know your neighbors and love them.