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There’s one group of people you can always reach better than anyone else: your neighbors. Whether you have increased time in your neighborhood during this COVID-19 outbreak or not, chances are that the need and the opportunity have increased. We have new ways to show Christ’s love through our actions. We also have a great chance to build relationships that can bear fruit for eternity.
Here are some thoughts and resources from Watermark’s External Focus Team about Neighboring at this time. Hopefully, they’ll encourage you as you seek to be a great neighbor in this critical moment.
1. First, prepare to stretch
One thing becomes crystal clear in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37): Loving our neighbors well means stretching. In the story, the Samaritan went outside of his usual path, his usual acquaintances, and his usual schedule. He exerted effort, spent money, and made a plan.
As you pray about being a great neighbor, pray for a willingness to show love through unselfish, stretching actions. Don’t be limited by your personality, your plans, or your usual preferences.
2. Reach out
What can you do today?
- Which of your neighbors could you call?
- Who could you write a note to?
- Do you have means – a neighborhood Facebook group, NextDoor, a school email chain, etc. – to broadcast your willingness to help?
- Some of your neighbors may only be reached via a knock on the door.
As you reach out, there are several things to offer. Ask for prayer requests or specific needs. Offer books, board games, and other resources (including ones from Watermark) to help people pass the time in meaningful ways. Or do you have special talents that might be useful right now? For example, a neighborhood handyman, a homework tutor, or a meal-preparer would all provide a unique blessing to neighbors in the coming weeks. And for many, babysitting may be the most useful thing they could receive.
3. Consider the especially vulnerable
As you consider how you can “neighbor” during this time, of course, it’s great to start with those most vulnerable to COVID-19: the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
But others are affected by this crisis too – like your local business owner who had to shut down for a bit. The neighbor who was already looking for a new job. The mom whose kids are now home – possibly indefinitely. Each house on your block has a story, and some are possibly affected more than your household is. How can you help?
4. Step out there
Certainly, we want you to stay reasonably safe during this time. But that doesn’t mean, for instance, you can’t take a walk or go for a run. It’s good for your health, but it will also remind you of your neighbors (and remind them of you). You can pray as you walk. And you never know when you might have a great idea or start a great conversation (from a wise distance!). (We’ve encouraged you to walk your dog before!)
But there are other ways to “step out” too:
- Join NextDoor and/or your local neighborhood Facebook group. This won’t just keep you alerted of needs; it will also help you learn about and stay connected to your neighbors.
- Connect with your kids’ PTA
- Support city officials
- Buy a gift card to support a local restaurant or store
- Take part in special events and other things happening around you
5. Just be a good neighbor (with adjustments as needed!)
As you may remember, Watermark held a “Neighboring Weekend” back in November. Little did we know that we’d all have the chance to continue those relationships during a time of crisis four months later!
But hopefully, apart from special events, you’ve already sought to be a great neighbor. And if you haven’t – or haven’t as much as you’d like to – now is a great time to start. You can start simply, too. This season doesn’t require brand-new methods. It requires creatively adjusting what you might do any week of the year.
We do have some great resources toward that goal. Our recent article on Neighboring Well is a great place to start. And if you like lists of ideas, this resource shares 60 ideas from Watermark people like yourself. Grab some ideas, adjust where necessary, and just be a great neighbor during this time.
Read our other resources of ways to serve during COVID-19: