There’s nothing like a good ol’ neighborhood gathering, and summer is the perfect time to fire up the grill and connect with nearby folks in your community. This comes naturally for some of us – we chat with neighbors daily, the kids play together, carpooling and housesitting are the norm. Other neighborhoods aren’t quite as connected; someone moves in next door and you haven’t met them in six months. People come and go from work and all you see is the garage door lowering. No matter where we live, one thing is clear: God calls us to “Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 NLT What better way to do that than by sharing God’s love with neighbors when you open your home for a friendly get together?
Many Christians are good at reaching out on missionary fields, volunteering at church and helping those in need, but what if we went a step further and opened our homes (and our hearts) to the community of people right on our street? One powerful way to share God’s love with people is to do life with them. And what better way to begin than by throwing a block party. It’s a great way to enjoy time with friends, and even meet your neighbors with whom you haven’t had a chance to connect.
Before you start worrying, just remember there are many ways to do this. Start with what you have, offer it to God, and watch Him grow something beautiful.
Make it a Family Affair
Gather as a family for prayer. (If it’s just you, that’s great too!) Ask God to guide you – especially to those neighbors in need of connection. Next, get those invitations out! Consider your resources, schedules, etc. and plan a party that feels doable. Let the kids or grandkids help create invitations and walk around together to deliver. It may seem strange to go knocking on doors in our digital age, but it takes only a little time and can make a big difference!
Tell Your Story
When party time arrives, try to concentrate less on having everything perfect and more on making Christ-centered connections. Our homes say a lot about who we are, and the environment we create can offer a sense of God’s presence before we even say a word. Consider ways you can tell the story of your faith through your surroundings. It could be something as simple as placing some Scriptural wall art in the kitchen, or serving some of the finger foods on an inspiring tray or platter.
Share The Load
What’s a summer gathering without food? If you love cooking and have the time, go for it! Otherwise, consider this: everyone loves a potluck! You get to spend less energy on food prep and more on connecting with people. Guests often ask how they can help and this gives them an opportunity to contribute. And who knows? They may share a favorite family recipe that everyone goes home with! Remember, strong bonds often have humble beginnings. God uses even the most ordinary things to help us grow lasting relationships.
Have Some Fun
You can’t go wrong with good old-fashioned yard games – both for kids and kids at heart. Offering a few different ways to participate helps people get to know each other more comfortably. Remind your little ones before the party that they can shine for Jesus, even as they play. Encourage them to play fair and reach out to anyone who looks left out. Let them know they’re never too young to be great hosts!
Regardless of how you open your home, always remember it’s not about having the perfect party, the most entertainment, or the greatest response from guests. One thing matters, and that is living out the Gospel in your own unique way. Keep Jesus’ commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NLT) and everything else will fall into place.