Find a Common Interest with Your Neighbor


If you’ve been reading my blog (such an odd word), you know that the first step toward your neighbor is all about building trust. Often that happens around common interests and values. 

For example, just yesterday I had a conversation with two neighbors about our yards.  We easily

shared information about how each does lawn care as one person was asking about lawn care services. We all value a lawn that doesn’t look bad. It’s a common interest. We learned that none of us goes wild and it matters to us. Trust was built.


Another neighbor told me he likes the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. I now read it every day. Yesterday we laughed together over a recent offering.


I’m guessing some of you are hungry for what a next step looks like because you want to know where this is going, right? And you want to know how you’ll get there.


The next step takes time to develop. You spend a lot of time building trust. But nothing is a straight-line and you don’t do step A with the assurance it will lead to step B.


Some of my neighbors have shocked me by opening up quickly, almost too quickly. Two have asked me questions or have brought up topics which took us into deeper waters than I was prepared to go.


So, how do you navigate if things go deep? Do you dump tons of information before their door closes?

No, instead you ask questions. Why? Because behind their statements or questions lies a belief or value you need to explore before you dump your beliefs on them. Dumping, not surprisingly, is never the right approach.


Here is a truth: People will not let you influence them until they feel like you “get” and accept them. That begins with affirming what you can of their spiritual beliefs and practices - if that’s the topic. But before affirmation comes questioning and trying to understand and even restate what they have said. Actually, that’s the best form of affirmation.


Can you see that so far you are saying very little about what you believe? Why? Because in an age where people can be cynical and suspicious if they sense people have an agenda, we begin with honor and respect. 


Steps you can take to build relationships:

  1. 1. Wave at your neighbors when you are outside.
  2. 2. Say hello and ask them how they are doing.
  3. 3. Ask about their Covid experiences and ask questions that show genuine care for them.
  4. 4. Ask them if they are beginning to re-engage with family and friends.
  5. 5. Ask if your neighborhood has ever had driveway or backyard gatherings.
  6. 6. Ask them if they would co-host one with you.
  7. 7. If “yes,” set the date and create a simple invitation (date, time, address, items to bring, etc.) and deliver them together.


That’s enough for now. I do want you to know what’s next. I’m working on simple kits detailing beginning to end steps for a gathering in the driveway or a backyard blowout.



Tom Johnson

Community Outreach Pastor