The first step in connecting with your neighbors is moving from stranger to acquaintance through the creation of a block map. This tool serves a few different purposes. Block maps:
- help you learn the names of your closest neighbors
- identify gaps in your knowledge about your neighbors and their story
- provide a reminder to pray for and serve your neighbors
- become a launchpad for organizing gatherings
For such a simple tool, these are enormous benefits. If you’re anything like me, prone to forget names and living in a transient community of apartment-dwellers, just recalling people’s names when I see them next is a huge step forward. Having a block map to record your neighbors’ names and additional information will go a long way toward helping you reflect Christ’s love by interacting on a more significant level.
How do I start?
We’ve provided a block map on our resources page that you can print off and fill out. Start with whatever information you know, and don’t forget to put your own home on the map! Although the page is laid out to resemble a street block, feel free to personalize it based on your surroundings. You can do this by including the addresses or apartment numbers of your neighbors. Hang it where you’ll see it frequently — such as on your refrigerator, by a bathroom mirror, or near a wall calendar if you have one. The key is to have it in a prominent spot as a practical reminder that this is a priority for you.
What should you put on your block map? In addition to names, consider including:
- ages of children
- contact information (offer to exchange your information)
- hobbies, interests, parts of personal story (i.e. “Recently moved from Ohio” or “Rangers fan”)
The sky’s the limit! Whatever will help you remember and serve your neighbors better is what you should include.
Still see several blank boxes staring at you? Don’t be discouraged; this is where neighboring begins. If you need a little inspiration for ways to connect with those you don’t know yet, check out this post. It’s often hard or awkward to approach a neighbor of several months or years whom you still don’t know, but being frank and apologetic about your lack of communication with them can go a long way toward establishing a foundation for friendship.
Remember, this step is just about making that initial contact and learning some basic information about your neighbors. Next time, we’ll talk about how to use your block map to deepen these newly-formed relationships.