You've been to a block party, right? All the neighbors show up with some food and drinks to share. Some of them bring friends. There are kids running around playing together. Everyone is just relaxing. Engaged in conversations about various topics.
And, if you haven't been to one, we're sure you've seen one. Or at least heard of them.
Well, how awesome would it be to have a block party every week? Think of the relationships that would grow if you spent a couple hours sharing a meal and some downtime with your neighbors every week.
It is possible!
Remember the story we shared last week about Where We Learned To Be Missional? This was our first exposure to the idea of a weekly block party, and we loved it!
Now, for the last 3 years, we've been hosting a block party in our front yard every week between April and September (as long as the weather cooperates). And the neighbors LOVE it! We even have neighbors joining us from 3 or 4 blocks away, because they've heard about this fun little get-together.
If you want to build lasting relationships with your neighbors, this is one of the best ways we know. So, here are 7 easy steps you can take to start a weekly block party in your neighborhood.
1. Meet your neighbors (kind of an important step)
If you don't already have at least a surface level relationship with your neighbors, then you need to stop reading this list and start working on that first. If this is you, go back and read Porch Sitting and 7 More Excuses to Engage Your Neighbors. This will give you some simple ideas that should help you get to know the people in your neighborhood pretty quickly.
Once you know some of your neighbors (and not a day sooner), you can move on to the next step.
2. Decide what will work (your neighborhood is unique)
Every neighborhood is different. While we are absolutely certain the tools we presented to you in Top 2 Missional Tools That Start A Conversation Every Time deserve to be named #1 & #2, the ideas behind them might need to be adjusted to fit your neighborhood.
But, if you haven't taken the time to get to know your neighbors before you decide what kind of party you're going to have, you could miss the mark completely. A fraternity style keg party might not go over so well in an apartment complex full of families with small children (remember that movie, Neighbors, with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron?). Or maybe it would. That's up to you to discover.
Just make sure your plan is something that will work in your setting.
3. Tell them your plan (and be flexible)
Once you have a plan, take it to the neighbors. For 2 reasons:
- First, your neighbors need to know the plan if they're going to participate. If they don't know what's going on, they probably won't show up.
- Second, what if you totally misjudged things? You could have developed an amazing party that nobody will attend. And talking to the people you plan on inviting just might be the difference between a great time and an evening by yourself in the front yard.
So, once you have a date and time picked out and everyone knows the plan, you're ready to move forward.
4. Get set up (start early)
The plan you come up with will determine how much work is going to go into your party. But, whatever you come up with, don't wait until the last minute to get ready. Nothing will get your fun event started off on the wrong foot like you running around setting up when you should be hanging out.
Your neighbors are joining you for a fun time. And you invited them because you want to actually hang out with them. So, don't ruin it by procrastinating setup to the last minute. Organize your time so you can be there with your neighbors. Heck, get done early and just kick back on your porch (there's that porch sitting idea again). Maybe you'll even get an early visitor or 2.
5. Have fun (and don't stress)
Once the party starts, enjoy it. Grab a drink and relax. Get to know people. Nobody wants to watch you stress about every little detail. Actually, nobody really cares about those details except you anyway.
And, don't do stuff that's unnatural. Enjoy yourself and help everyone else do the same. But don't be someone you're not. Step out of your comfort zone a little. But, don't be fake. Your neighbors want to get to know you too. So, just be yourself and have some fun.
After all, if you don't enjoy yourself at these weekly parties, how long do you think they'll last before you just feel burned out?
6. Accept help if it's offered (but don't expect it)
Depending on the personalities of the people in your neighborhood, you might end up having people offer to help clean up. Or maybe they even offered to help set up beforehand. That's great!
Don't turn down help. You need to allow other people to take some ownership if it's going to become a regular occurrence. And, there are two reasons for this:
- Wouldn't it be better if you had input and help from other people? You'll carry less of the burden for putting the event on, and the party will probably be better with multiple people pitching in anyway.
- It allows this thing to be something the whole neighborhood can own. If your goal is to showoff how great of a neighbor you are, then you're not doing it right. The goal here is to create community. Who cares who gets the credit?
But, if you end up putting it all together and cleaning up alone, you need to know that's okay too. If that's how it ends up, then you're serving your neighbors. And that's a great thing.
7. Talk about it later (with everyone)
If everyone has a good time, then it should naturally be something that's talked about the next day. Talk about the party with your neighbors. This will help to remind everyone of the fun you had, and it will act as a promotion for the next event.
The more you talk about it, the more your neighbors will begin to look forward to the next one. And everyone that missed it will wish they were there. As time goes on, if you're doing it right, more people will start joining you.
You just have to be ready for the day when there are more people in your front yard that you don't know than there are people you do know. And, when it happens, we hope you have enough food and drink.
What are you waiting for?
Get out there and have some fun! And tell us about it in the comments below. We love hearing stories about people living missionally.