A Connect09 car crash
It was a car accident that prompted Michelle, a 30-something mum living on a quiet street in leafy suburban Wollongong, to consider how she could kick off her own Connect 09 campaign.
The nearby accident drew everyone out of their houses onto the street, and gave Michelle a great idea on how to "Pray. Expect. Connect." with her neighbours - typically average middle-class families and retirees.
How about a neighbourhood street party?
Together with another Christian household, she planned.
She prayed. She expected. And she connected.
Her aim was to get to know her neighbours.
She went door-to-door inviting the residents.
She also letterbox dropped personal invitations.
And one Saturday afternoon, hosting the event on the front lawn of her home, with the BBQ going, and drinks laid out, she was shocked to see that nearly everyone on her street accepted the invitation. People brought nibbles and dips.
The response was very positive:
25 houses in the street.
27 adults turned up.
Young people and old people were seen communicating well with each other.
Many people expressed that it should have been done a long time ago. Phone numbers and invitations were exchanged.
Several lonely people were also very happy to receive an invitation. One man's wife recently died, and it gave Michelle and her Christian neighbour an opportunity to show Christ's concern and care. Michelle now has a list of people on the street.
Where will it lead to?
Michelle is hopeful that it will lead to more open doors.
Already, she has received reciprocal invitations from people in the street to come over to their place. Now that everyone has been introduced, Michelle foresees inviting individual households to further develop relationships. Other ideas include a men's bowls day, a ladies' craft afternoon., play dates with kids, and inviting people to an Easter event later.
How are you connecting to your neighbourhood?
Michelle's Top 5 Tips: for organizing your own neighbourhood street party.
1. Ask for prayer and support from other Christians.
2. Choose an early afternoon for a BBQ and set a time limit. Make it family-friendly. Some people have things on for dinner, and an evening event can go on and on. Have it in someone's front yard, or if blocking off the street, you may need council permission.
3. Personal invitations are a must. Put down the names and phone numbers of the people organizing. Make it clear children are welcome.
4. Open yourself up for further contact. Think long-term relationships for the gospel. Not a one-off event.
5. Don't let the momentum die. Work out what to do next. Look for further opportunities.