25 Ways to Intentionally Engage Our Community
Hopefully you have had a chance to meet Nathan and Leslie Tubbs by now. They have been coming to the Gallery for some time now. For nearly two years they have been intentionally engaging the neighborhood of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn with plans to plant a church in Bay Ridge. We so stoked about sending them out of the Gallery sometime in the future. I don’t know anyone who has engaged a neighborhood with greater intentionality than Nathan and Leslie. I recently Nathan to give me a list of 25 ways to engage our community. Read below and be inspired! (BTW, any moment/day now Nathan and Leslie will have their first child. Say a prayer for them today!)
- Volunteer in your community. For us, that means teaching ESL to immigrants in our neighborhood.
- Join a book club. You never know when books might allude to the gospel story.
- Go to the park and start a game of kickball or ultimate Frisbee. Invite others to join you. Moms, take some sidewalk chalk and have your kids share with others in the park. Use these activities to get to know your neighbors.
- Join a gym. Go often and don’t rely too much on your iPod. Rather take the opportunity to get to know other members and the people working the front desk.
- Get ready for work at the gym. As strange as it sounds, locker rooms are great places for starting a conversation.
- Get a hobby and then find others in the community who enjoy that hobby. For me, it means visiting the comic book store each week and talking with the employees and customers about the latest happenings in Batman.
- Offer to shovel snow for your neighbors.
- Bake a cake, pie, or cookies for your neighbors. This is especially great around holidays, when people are more receptive to receive gifts.
- Do your laundry at the same time each week. People are creatures of habit, and you will more than likely see the same people each week. Also, don’t avoid times when the laundry room will be crowded – you want to engage people!
- When you go to a restaurant, if possible sit at the bar rather than a booth or a table. People will not walk up to a random table and start a conversation, but almost anyone will talk to you if you are sitting at the bar – especially the bartender.
- Concerning restaurants, find one you like and that is within your budget and eat there frequently. Get to know the servers and managers. When friends or family visit, take them there and introduce them to everyone you know.
- Shop locally. Rather than making purchases online, visit locally owned stores, and get to know the owners and/or employees.
- After you get to know people in local businesses, stop in the store to say “hello,” even if you are not going to buy anything. Let them know you are more than a customer; you are a friend.
- When you begin to make friends in the local businesses and restaurants, support your new friends. For example, if you have a friend who is an actor, try to attend at least one performance of any play in which he or she has a role.
- If you commute to work by bus, try to catch the same bus each day. If possible, attempt to engage people in conversation while waiting on the bus.
- Ladies: Go to the hair salon! Get a mani-pedi! Do these as often as possible, and frequent the same place and use the same stylist. Get to know them and share your life with them.
- If your colleagues decide to go out after work on Friday, regardless of how tired you may be, go out with them, even if for only a short time. Spend this time getting to know them outside of work.
- Pray for your friends, and tell them that you pray for them.
- Take a few hours one day a month and pick up trash in your neighborhood. People will take notice and will want to know why you would do such a thing.
- When you go to McDonald’s (or other fast-food restaurant), look around and see if you notice any homeless people. If so, buy an extra burger and give it to them in Jesus’ name.
- If you have neighbors with health problems or disabilities, offer to pick up items for them when you go to the grocery store.
- If someone seems lost, stop and offer to help them find their way to where they are going.
- Use holidays such as Christmas and Easter as opportunities to share the gospel. During these times, people are especially receptive to give gifts. Offer a candy-cane or chocolate egg with a card that contains a verse from the Bible. Also be prepared to share when people ask, “Why do you celebrate____?”
- Prayerwalk. As you walk around your neighborhood, take notice of needs and pray for them.
- Become a part of the community. Attend community events (i.e. concerts in the park, street festivals, block parties, town hall meetings, etc.) and meet your neighbors.
What would you add to Nathan’s list?