a guaranteed way to impact your neighborhood
meet a need.
be a blessing with no strings attached.
we decided upon a neighborhood pizza night. what could you do?
here's how we did it as a family of 6, all hands on deck for under $150.
my original plan seemed brilliant and well-thought out. i would utilize everyone's gifts in the family to make our neighborhood grill night inviting and satisfying. ben would grill the meat. elijah would sauté the veggies. sam would create the environment. kavita would design the signs. asher would greet everyone. i would set up, clean up, and be the whispering cheerleader encouraging my tribe to say hello and learn names.
until the grill broke. i can get easily frustrated when my original plan fails, but i'm learning to embrace plan B -- which is often God's plan A all along. it just takes me longer to get there.
we would now get pizza and offer it to our neighbors as they came home from work. pizza, bottled water, and cookies for free. we made large florescent signs and hung them on our fence two days prior. there are no other signs to read on the way to work, so this would surely get their attention. we would be ready before 5 pm and would do whatever it took to start the introductions to most people we've yet to meet.
where we live is a popular route to one of the city's main transit stations. hundreds of people walk by our house, typically on the way to work and on the way home. our city embraces costco pizza for the obvious reasons. it's good and cheap and feeds an army. no one would have to wonder what we were serving. everyone is comfortable with costco pizza. we picked up 10 boxes with 12 slices in each. ben and i were exhibiting big faith or content with a massive amount of leftovers. perhaps both. the costco guy asked what this was all for. "we're feeding our neighborhood!" he replied, "i wish i lived there!" i didn't say it, but felt it deep, "yeah, you do!"
sam, using his gifts, persuaded me to move the setting from our backyard to our fence along the sidewalk. genius. while i wanted everyone to step inside our setting, the sidewalk was better neutral ground. card table and us.
what really happened:
we knew people would come by. we wondered if they would stop. they wanted to pay. they wanted to know the catch. they couldn't believe we'd do this for free and with no strings attached. they hung around. they met other neighbors. traffic slowed down on a rather busy street. this busy street has no shoulder, yet an ambulance, a police car, and a general contractor truck pulled over to get pizza! and we served them! people on the bus stared. a dozen or so stopped by who we knew. they had come into our home or we had met on the street or helped one another out. it was the forty or more that wowed us! two deaf guys. a lesbian couple. an older lady who helps at the jewish community center. a family from costa rica who just moved here. a family with a down syndrome son. a single mom who also took a piece home to her daughter. most of the neighbors had to walk across the street as we motioned them over for free pizza. if they refused, they did so with a smile. some had to remove their earbuds. we were so proud of them. this lasted about two hours. the crowd dwindled and the wind picked up. we closed shop.
we took our last two boxes to neighbors we knew. asher rang the doorbell and the lady replied, "we didn't order pizza!" asher said, "we aren't delivering. we're giving it to you!" the other neighbors were gearing up for transition and pizza would be our treat for them.
how we engaged:
we learned their names. they shared their stories of living here, growing up here. they told us where they went to high school and college. they told us where they work. we told them we did this to get to know their names. to cause them to stop and talk. many stuck around to learn other's names.
this creates safety in a community. we started the introductions and they started to smile. i'm convinced the next day that as they walked by our house, they remembered pizza. but my hope is that we become the hub. we want to be those neighbors, that family!
we'll do it again soon. they'll be invited to our cookies and cocoa in december. i'm convinced of this, it's not up to them. it's up to us. and if God can do something radical with 5 loaves and 2 fish. i can only dream what He's doing with 10 boxes of costco pizza through a tribe of 6.
how about you:
what have you done or want to do to engage your neighborhood? share your plan and include your setting (apartment complex, country road, dormitory, street block)
many of you live in areas that have been affected by natural disasters. who has served you? what can you do or are you doing to impact your neighborhood?