Neighborhoods Now 

Neighborhoods Now 

Neighborhoods Now is a simple guide to help you meet your neighbors, stay connected with them, and serve them during this unusual time of social distancing. By using  suggested “talking points” and questions, you can engage with those living around you in an effort to meet needs and to share the good news of Jesus. Ideally, Neighborhood Now will also be used as a tool to help you effectively minister to your neighbors on a more personal, face-to-face basis.

You can register here to take the lead and launch this ministry in your neighborhood. 

Your place of residence is an important tool God has provided for you to have spiritual leverage in your community.

Step One – Commit to Serve Your Neighbors

God has put you in a specific location of impact for His Kingdom purposes. Your place of residence is an important tool God has provided for you to have spiritual leverage in your community. But you may wonder, “How do I know that I am called to this ministry?” Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are there people in your neighborhood who seem isolated or without community?

  • Do you have  a burden for your neighbor’s salvation?

  • Do you have the margin in your life to commit to weekly/monthly online or community gatherings to encourage your neighbors?

  • Are you willing to get involved in the lives of those who are lost around you?

  • Will you consider using this tool to be a  “volunteer chaplain” for your neighborhood?

If your answers to any of these questions is a yes, then this ministry opportunity is perfect for you.

Step Two – Invite Other Believers to Join You

While you can do Neighborhood Now alone, it would be better to have at least one other Christ-follower who can help facilitate online conversations with your neighbors. This person will provide accountability, spiritual insight, and encouragement as you invest time and energy into building relationships with others.

  • Is there another Christian neighbor you know who would be willing to serve alongside you?

  • Would your spouse be willing to join you?

  • Is this a ministry that your family can participate in?

Step Three – Gather Contact Information

We could all do a better job of keeping up with and knowing the families in your community, so how do you start?

  • Before you schedule your first Zoom meeting, create your own Excel spreadsheet or database for storing your neighbors’ names and contact information. You will want to remember their names, other information about their family, careers, and hobbies, while also knowing how to successfully contact them in the future.

  • Contact the neighbors you already know. Tell them your plans for a Zoom meeting, and ask if they know anyone else in the neighborhood who would be interested in joining the meeting. Collect those neighbors’ contact information and plan to reach out to them.

  • If you’re outside and you see one of your neighbors, politely introduce yourself and ask how they have been handling this social distancing time while remaining a safe distance apart. If the conversation allows, tell them that you care about your neighborhood and explain your plans for serving those around you. If they are interested, collect their contact information and promise to follow up with instructions on how to join the Zoom meeting.

Here is a sample introduction:
“Hi. I’m Steve. My wife and I have lived on Twin Falls Court for the last 2 years. We’re the ones always riding bikes on the weekends. I’m sorry that we have not put effort into getting to know your family. But because of the current national crisis, we want you to know that we’re here if we can serve you in any way. I am going to start an online Zoom meeting to meet our neighbors and check on everyone during this crisis. If you’re interested in joining, you can message me, and I’ll let you know via email/text/social media when our neighborhood group will meet online, or eventually at a neighborhood gathering.”

Step Four – Schedule Your First Zoom Meeting
  • Set a date and a time for your first Zoom meeting.

  • Communicate the Zoom meeting information with plenty of notice to allow your neighbors time to plan and prepare. Send the invitation with the zoom links, ID’s, and passwords if you choose to use the passwords.

  • If you are unfamiliar with how to use Zoom, you can learn more about zoom with this link.

  • Send your meeting invitation to your neighbors.

Step Five – Conduct Your First Zoom Meeting

Prior to your meeting, pray with those enlisted to assist you with this ministry. Prepare your heart for conversations with people you may not yet know.

  • Once the meeting begins, you will have the opportunity to create a welcomed and relaxed environment. As your neighbors join the meeting, it is important that you introduce yourself. You may use a similar introduction from Step 3. Again, it is okay to apologize for not meeting your neighbors sooner.

  • In addition, it will be helpful to use a conversation starter that will enable everyone to contribute their thoughts and experiences in a friendly way. Here are some sample questions that may be helpful (and light-hearted) starters for your conversation.

“What is the funniest meme you have seen during our social distancing?”

“If you chose a song to describe your social distancing time, what would it be?”

“How successful has your search for toilet paper been?”

“What is the most disgusting food you’ve eaten during your quarantine?”

“What are you missing most?”

  • After everyone has had time to join the conversation, look to find out how your neighbors are truly doing. The goal is to address their needs with the truth of God’s word. Below are a couple of sample talking points, which include a question for your neighbors, and an appropriate response from the Zoom host:

Question: “Is anyone afraid? How are you dealing with fear?”
Possible Answer: For me, I am a Christian, so my time reading the Bible has helped me. I read this week in Psalm 46 that God is my strength. His command for me in that verse is not to fear. As a mom, I find that I can easily drift toward fear because I don’t know how to protect my kids from this virus. It’s beyond me. I have to rely on knowing that no matter what happens during this, I have to depend on a power greater than me because frankly, this is out of my hands. 

Question: “What brings comfort to you right now?”
Possible Answer: This crisis has reminded me of how much I depend on community. I don’t believe that we were designed to live in isolation thought some of us are more introverted than others. Our church has done a great job of keeping us connected online through zoom meetings like this and through online worship. I am thankful for that in my life. We have also used Zoom to connect with my parents in their mid-80’s whom I put in self-isolation to protect them. 

  • Conclude in a timely manner. Be specific in when you will set the next ZOOM meeting until the national crisis is over. Here are some things to consider:

    • Is weekly too much or better for consistency?

    • What time works best? Mornings? Early evening? Late evening?

    • What is the right amount of time. You are limited to 40 minutes with a free zoom account. You will be cut off if you go over. Make sure each week you stop with a clear finish prior to the end for closure.

    • Make yourself available by offering your phone number in case there is a need or someone needs to talk prior to the next meeting.

Additional Helps for Your Conversations

How To Listen Well and Move Conversations Along
Listening well to others is very important. For one, it demonstrates caring. Also, it builds rapport with the other person. Listed below are some common ways to improve listening skills.

Ways To Listen Well

  • Avoid Distractions – Focus on what your neighbor or friend is saying. Fight distractions hard. For example, don’t be on your phone texting while your friend is talking with you. This is disrespectful.

  • Listen to the Content and Context of Speech – Focus on the phrases and word choice that your friend or neighbor uses. Pay close attention to the specific emphasis of word choice.

  • Listen for Emotions from the Speaker – Look for specific emotions that your neighbor or friend shares. For example, pay attention to any kinds of transparent or vulnerable speech. When your friend is sharing something personal, that is something to pay attention to.

  • Provide Small Verbal Encouragements – Saying things like, “yes” or “I understand” are things that are encouraged. These are words that communicate understanding. Also, allowing natural silence is alright. Sometimes in conversation there is that awkward silence. Don’t try to fill those due to your own discomfort. Small silence is not a bad thing.

  • Ask Open -Ended Questions – Ask good questions that require a response.

  • Do More Listening Than Talking – A good discussion leader excels in asking questions and guiding the conversations. Your neighbors will not return to a second meeting if you monopolized the conversation with your own spiritual agenda. Practice prior to your meeting to listening more in your conversations at work and at home.

Ways to Move Conversation Along 

Moving the conversation along requires intentionality. By staying focused on the person and the conversation you can move the conversation along while showing concern for the other person. For example, ask questions that uncover information about the other person. Listed below are some ways to keep the conversation moving along.

  • Review the Past – If you have a previous conversation, review the past conversation. For example: “How have you been since our last conversation?” “How did ______ work out since our last conversation?”  “In our last conversation you mentioned ________. How did that end?”

  • Discuss the Present – Ask simple questions such as: “How are you doing now?” “What ways have you used to cope with______?” “Is there anything I can do for you right now?” “What do you plan on doing about ________?”

  • Plan for Future Talks – Schedule a future time to talk to your neighbor or friend. For example, both parties schedule a time that best fits. During these future conversations, review the past, discuss the present, and then finally, schedule another future date to engage in conversation

Questions to Consider in any Conversation

  • “What are you learning about yourself? About life?”

  • “What kind of emotions are you feeling right now?”

  • “What are you most excited about?”

  • “What challenges do you see yourself facing?”

  • “Do you have any needs or anything that I can help with?”