1. Reserve a night for “neighbor night.”
Years ago, when my wife and I started talking about wanting to develop a lifestyle of biblical hospitality, we made a decision that changed everything for us. We always felt like we were too busy to really practice this in a substantial way, but we realized we had most Tuesdays open. So we decided to block off Tuesday nights for the purpose of being “neighbor night.”
Neighbor night was specifically designed for us to host people with whom we were building relationships—whether it was a non-Christian friend or neighbor, a Christian who was struggling or someone God just had on our minds recently. The idea was just to make a little bit of extra food—whatever we were gonna make anyway—and have them over.
This changed the game for us, because it took so much of the hassle of scheduling out of the equation. When this went into effect, anytime my wife or I met someone we wanted to have over, all we had to say was “What are you doing next Tuesday night? We’d love to have you over.”
This practice, without a doubt, has been the most effective means of practicing hospitality we’ve ever seen in our lives. We’ve watched God do so many incredible things over those simple meals in our homes. Of course, this doesn’t have to be every week—it can be on what your schedule allows. But if you don’t put it on your schedule, the odds that it will ever happen drop tremendously.
2. Practice the “always rule.”
The idea of something like neighbor night often brings up questions like “How will I meet people to invite over?” or “How do I even meet my neighbors?” Of course, you can start by practicing hospitality with anyone—friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. But often one of the best places to focus on is your neighbors, and the always rule is a helpful tool in that regard.
This is something I created for myself years ago, because I noticed that when I am outside in my neighborhood, that’s my absolute best time to meet my neighbors. But it always just feels like the wrong time, doesn’t it? I’m getting my kids out of the car, or I just got my mail, or I’m unloading groceries. A neighbor that I don’t know walks by, but I’m busy so I just smile and wave. And if I ever see them again, it will be months or years.
So, the always rule is a rule that when I see a neighbor that I haven’t met yet, I have pre-decided that I am going to stop and meet them and have a brief conversation. Always. This has been a tremendously helpful change for me to build relationships with those that live around me.
3. Use sports.
Many of us love sports, and so do your friends, co-workers and neighbors. If you’re all going to be watching a game, why not watch it together at your place? Sports can be a super simple way to get started practicing hospitality.
4. Use shared interests.
The same idea for sports can be applied to an endless number of things. You can use a TV show as a common interest to have people over, awards shows, video games or books through hosting a book club. These are low-barrier ways to get people doing things they are already interested in while also getting to build relationship with you. Win win!
5. Host a neighborhood cookout.
If you want to get to know your neighbors, hosting a neighborhood cookout is a fantastic way to start. We did this when we moved into our current house, and we had neighbors that had lived two doors down from each other for 15 years who met for the first time at our house. People often have a genuine desire to meet their neighbors and get to know them better, but most people just won’t take the initiative to do it.
6. Practice reverse hospitality.
Reverse hospitality is when you do something hospitable for someone by taking something to their house. For example, when new people move into your neighborhood, you could practice this by making something and taking it over to them. This is often a great first touch point to begin building a relationship with someone.