WE DIDN'T SET OUT TO BECOME "FRONT YARD PEOPLE." WE WEREN'T MISSION-FOCUSED AND WE WEREN'T INTENTIONAL.
We became front yard people because our backyard is a big steep hill, and it's not easy for our three kids to play back there. So ever since we moved into our home three years ago, we've played in the front yard and in the driveway.
Because of this slight backyard inconvenience and because we spend all of our outside time in the front yard, our eyes have been opened to all the neighbors around us.
Our kids play basketball in the front. We throw the baseball in the front. We ride bikes and scooters in the front. And we always have our friendly golden retriever, Boudreaux, on a leash in the front. He has become our household mascot. Everyone knows his name and he probably has more friends than we do! But he is an easy conversation-starter. (A recent injury has our large golden retriever bound to a wheelchair, and that is the best conversation starter we've ever had!)
I have a heart for hospitality and for inviting people in, but it's much easier to invite people in that you already know and have a relationship with from church or school. In our family's case, the people that live the closest to us were complete strangers for much too long.
I didn't just walk over and invite the neighbors to dinner, but we started off with building relationships in the front yard.
Maybe you're doing this with your backyard neighbors... it doesn't have to apply only to front yard neighbors. But if you're looking for a place to start without having to get too uncomfortable, start in your front yard because being in the front yard suggests that you are open and available to community.
HERE ARE 4 EASY TIPS FOR CREATING A FRONT YARD MINISTRY
1. Have a place to sit
Get some rocking chairs or just a little bench. Have a place that you can sit that also invites others to sit with you. Even if no one ever sits with you, having a place where you're comfortable being out there so people get familiar with seeing you is a starting place.
2. Invite neighborhood kids to join yours in casual yard play
When you're playing with your kids, invite your neighbor and their kids to come play. Our neighbors' daughter brings her basketball over to play with our kids. Our other neighbors' baby toddles over to push our toddler in his Cozy Coupe. When the kids come the parents often follow.
3. Be friendly
Wave at everyone that drives by and say hello to everyone that walks or runs by. People get in their routines and if you're outside every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. and your neighbor runs by every Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m., your consistency will lead to relationship.
4. Be ready and equipped
You don't have to immediately launch into a full blown invitation to church or immediately attempt to lead a neighbor to Christ, but when that relationship develops over time because of your genuine interest in your neighbors and their lives, you'll have plenty of opportunities to talk about God's goodness in your life and about your church family. Pray for opportunities, spend time in God's word, and be ready.
Taking time to slow down while consistently making yourself available to your neighbors leads to the kind of relationships where you open up to each other and are able to serve each other in Jesus' name.
Want to learn more practical steps for intentionally loving your neighbors?
Join David Taylor, the Missions & Evangelism pastor, for a 3-week class called The Art of Neighboring, February 15, 22 & March 1.
Erin Carroll and her husband Todd have been members of Shandon since 2008. They live in Forest Acres with their three boys, Hudson, Hayes and James Walker, and golden retriever Boudreaux.