Welcoming New Neighbors

6 minute read

In the summer of 1988, we took a family vacation from our hometown in Carver Massachusetts to Paris, Tennessee. The vacation turned into a quest for a new home My parents had been looking for a new place to live and raise their three children for a multitude of reasons. We toured the town, visited the lake, and spent several days with our real estate agent looking at homes.  We settled on a one-year-old ranch in the Woodbird subdivision a few minutes south of Paris. We feel in love with Paris and our new home!

I’ll never forget when my mom and dad told me we were going to go as a family and meet our neighbors. I was scared to death! We were the odd ones out, and yet my parents were taking the initiative to introduce themselves. As we went from house to house, telling everyone who we were, which house we lived in, and where we came from, we began our slow assimilation into the Woodbird community. Our family and our neighbors watched out for each other, babysat, played together, mowed each other’s lawns, and shared extra veggies in the summer. I began to learn the importance of community and loving my neighbors.

I have lived in six different homes since that house in Woodbird. I can’t think of a single time someone purposely knocked on my door after we moved in to welcome us to the neighborhood or introduce themselves. When I think of the other side of the coin, I can think of plenty of times that I failed to be intentional about welcoming new neighbors and make them feel at home in a new community. This is an area I would like to improve upon. Maybe you’ll agree and be encouraged by this post.

A Biblical Basis

  • People have been moving since the dawn of time:

From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations. Gen 10:5

  • We are to love and care for our neighbors as Christ loves us:

…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

  • Part of being a follower of Christ is loving our neighbors:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 22:36-40 ESV

You and I should consider making the first introduction

We are comfortable with our surroundings and know the lay of the land. We’ve lived in our neighborhood for some time and can provide tips, give suggestions on our favorite restaurants, and let people know what the unofficial rules of the HOA might be.

I served as pastor in a rural church several years ago. During my first week there, I ran someone off without knowing it. I quickly learned why.  A deacon called to ask me why I had not spoken to this man at a restaurant.

Apparently the gentleman had called the deacon to complain and express his displeasure with the new pastor.

The deacon said, “The man says he’s never coming back to church because you wouldn’t speak to him.” Speak to him!! I didn’t know who he was! The restaurant was full.” I asked the deacon, “Am I expected to introduce myself to each person everywhere just in case I might offend someone and run off an attender I haven’t met yet?” He said, “Well, I guess that does sound silly. He didn’t come much anyway. We won’t worry about it.”

Introducing ourselves, like when a new neighbor moves in, is kind and normal.

Using a Welcome Bag-What to include

  • A summary of your favorite restaurants, local parks and attractions, and various other things you’ve learned since you’ve been in the community.
  • If you live in a small community, you may want to include some of the local customs and festivals and other points of interest.
  • You can visit canva.com to help in designing a really nice card or half sheet of paper.
  • Include a small gift from a local business, such as coffee, tea, or your favorite local sauce or condiment (In Paris Tn, we had Allegro Fine Foods).
  • A gift card, some microwave popcorn, and a couple cans of soda are nice. Get inventive and run the idea by your spouse or a friend to get their opinion.

Introducing Yourself

Briefly, introduce yourself and your family. Include your house number, what you like about the neighborhood/area, and a description of a few activities you enjoy. Include also an invitation to your church and encouragement for them to join you soon. Include a web address and social media of your church so they can check it out at their convenience. Check out this article by Brad Brisco and Lance Ford on learning the names of your neighbors.

What not to say/include in a welcome bag

Be careful not to say anything disparaging of any neighbors, local businesses, or neighboring churches. Think about food items you might add. If they are perishable, please check the date and make sure it is fresh. We received a welcome bag from a church once and the food item was like a rock! It was not supposed to be.

If there are any allergies to the food items, you might clearly list them on a note card or have a non-food option when presenting a welcome bag to your neighbor.

The Gospel

I like to share the gospel with people. Family and neighbors are the hardest for me. I’ve found when I’m intentional about meeting my neighbors, I’m more likely to share the gospel. I do so out of love, not guilt, or a self-imposed goal. We shared it with a neighbor recently and they replied with deep interest. A few years ago I got convicted that I had not met the man across the street and went over to introduce myself. Turns out, he was a new believer who desired to grow. We began meeting regularly for discipleship.

A few weeks ago I watched a neighbor share his faith with another neighbor. His discern-o-meter was low (perhaps non-existent). The one listening kept looking at us with the expression “Help!!” Anyone but this guy could tell she simply wasn’t interested. Share the gospel and love your neighbors. Number 6 in this article may help. If you don’t know what to say, leave them with a nice gospel tract, or a web address/YouTube video that can clearly articulate the gospel


Be careful not to let this initial interaction be the last time you speak to your neighbor. When you see them comment on the local neighborhood Facebook page, try to interact with them if possible. Stop by when they are outdoors enjoying the day. Occasionally ask if they need any help with a visible project.

Friends, be the neighbor you want other neighbors to be. Should you move, let them say, “You’ve been a blessing in our neighborhood! We hate to see you go.” Love your neighbors well and encourage others to be a blessing to theirs as well.

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