Loving your neighbors at a distance can be hard but cultivating community is still so important! Let your community know they are not forgotten even during social distancing with these simple ideas – including many directly from readers!
Loving Your Neighbors at a Distance
Getting to know neighbors and cultivating community with those who live close to you is hard all the time but during a pandemic, this kind of neighboring love that requires social distancing can feel impossible.
Many of us have more time than usual right now and are looking for ways to reach out to our communities and love them well.
We are in a difficult spot though, we have the time to build relationships but social distancing makes it feel even more challenging.
So, how can you honor social distancing while also reaching out to neighbors and those around you to ultimately bless your community?
Creativity for YOUR Community at a Distance
Some things on social media have been discouraging and even disheartening during this Coronavirus pandemic but the thing I have enjoyed most has been seeing everyone’s creativity in serving those around them.
The suggestions have been seemingly endless and the creativity has been truly beautiful.
Ultimately we need creativity and wisdom from God to meet the needs of our specific communities. (Read more about that here…)
These ideas are meant to inspire your own Spirit-enabled creativity. Some of these ideas would bless any community, others are pretty specific to the situation you find yourself in but it is my hope that these ideas (many given by readers!) would inspire your creativity and encourage your heart.
Thank you to everyone who contributed!
Before we jump in, I just want to give a heartfelt thanks to all those readers who sent emails and got in touch with me via social media to pass along your insight and creativity! I can’t wait to see how God will use your ideas to spark other people’s creativity as they serve their communities and practice loving their neighbors at a distance!
Loving Your Neighbor at a Distance – Practical Ideas
This is not cliche. Prayer is genuinely the most important way for you to cultivate community and bless the people around you.
We don’t have to spend a tremendous amount of time looking for ways to bless others, we can do it simply by bringing them to Jesus in prayer.
If you know the needs of some of your neighbors, reach out to them and let them know that you’re praying for those specific issues and ask for updates.
If you don’t know their needs, ask them. Post on your neighborhood social media group that you will pray for any needs that are brought to your attention or send a card in the mail (or just drop it by the door) letting your neighbors know who you are, that you’re praying for them, and offering your phone number as a way for them to communicate any specific needs or prayer requests during this time.
This is such a simple, generous way to cultivate community and bless your neighbors during the pandemic.
Meet Practical Needs
Elizabeth from Pennsylvania used her sewing skills to make masks for her neighbors!
Shop for Elderly Neighbors & Healthcare Workers
Do you have elderly neighbors that you think could use some help? What about essential workers in your neighborhood who are working funky hours and are unable to do their normal errands?
Going to the grocery store is not an easy feat for anyone right now and it takes a tremendous amount of time. Ask for their list and do the shopping for them as way of loving your neighbors from a distance. You could literally be saving the life of an older person and you’re offering a necessary service to the entire community while tangibly blessing the receiver.
I have sent gift cards to some essential workers as a thank you. Also, with family and friends that are out of work, I sent some money to help as I have been blessed to still work during this time. An alternative is to make or bake something and drop it off. I think the most important thing right now, is to show that you are thinking of them even with a simple text.
Sherry from Michigan
Supply Food as a Way of Loving Your Neighbors at a Distance
We are making a huge batch of “Bunny Chow” in clear cello bags tied with big bows! Gonna drop-off on front porches!
Irene from Gathering Thyme
Bring (or Order) a Meal
If you are well, bringing a meal to someone’s house is still a great way to love your neighbors and community. Before you get concerned, realize that delivery drivers are still bringing food from restaurants. Please do take additional precautions though.
Make sure you’re not sick in any way. Wash your hands often. Consider wearing a mask if you are particularly nervous or know the receiver may be. Wear gloves when handling the finished product. Tell the person you are bringing the meal to about all of your preparations so they know the meal is ok. Seal the meal and drop it at the front door (play a little version of ding, dong, ditch).
Or, if you want things to be a little simpler, order some delivery for them.
This is especially helpful for those who may have sickness working its way through their home OR for those whose lives have only intensified during this crisis. For many working parents, this season has brought a lot of new challenges including homeschooling while working from home and swapping shifts so that they can go into work and still have childcare.
Taking care of dinner, even once, is a huge way to bless during this time! Plus, you can support a local business owner!
I plan to bake bread and drop it off with a jar of honey from my husband’s beehives on my neighbors’ porches, along with a note explaining that I used gloves to handle it and including our phone number and asking them to let us know if we can help them in any way. This idea can be adapted according to individual talents and abilities and tailored to recipients’ needs and interests.
Elizabeth from New York
My kids & I baked cookies & took them to our neighbors. It was a joy to talk with them & get to know them even better (kept a safe distance of course)
Write Cards and Send Packages
I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a time where a gift could mean so much. Especially for older people or those who live alone, a hand-written card with flowers or a gift means so much!
You can use this as a way to support local businesses by ordering gifts for shipment. This is a beautiful way to extend the blessing beyond just the receiver.
But honestly, even something simple shipped from Amazon goes a long way in a time of crisis.
A new mug, a candle, a book.
Just something to let them know that you’re thinking of them, you care, and brighter days are coming.
I am reaching out to at least 2-3 people a day, by phone, to give them encouragement in the Lord. This always encourages me too!
Joie from North Carolina
I have been sending encouraging cards to people who are isolated in assisted living centers and their family members! I know how excited I get when I get something in the mail!
Valerie from Texas
Set up a “necessary supplies” table in apartment hallways or common areas OR for delivery drivers
One of my husband’s coworkers was amazed when someone in her apartment complex did this. I’ve seen videos of delivery drivers exclaiming their thanks and things like “you’re a lifesaver!”
What a beautiful, simple way to show the generosity and kindness of Christ. In a world that is scrambling to hoard resources, this simple act of kindness provides a great opportunity to be a good testimony.
Toilet paper, hand soap, sanitizer, canned goods, gift cards, laundry detergent, dish soap, eggs, and milk are just a few ideas of things you can include but really anything you know is necessary. Leave a note with instructions like “Take what you need.”
Making People Smile as a Way of Loving Your Neighbors from a Distance
We’ve been drawing hopscotch on the street in our neighborhood (low traffic except for foot). Seeing families stop for a bit so their kiddos can hop along has brightened my days!
Mel from The Elle in Love
Sue from Welcome Heart passed out invitations for her neighbors to bring their Easter tables and meals outside and greet one another from a distance.
Tip well whenever you get the chance!
You may not be able to go to restaurants right now but please tip grocery and meal delivery drivers well! Many of them are going through financial difficulties right now and they’re taking a lot of the risk shopping all day so people like you and I don’t have to. Tip them well. It blesses them and it’s a good testimony!
How to Use Technology for Loving Your Neighbors at a Distance
Use technology. Our schedule has hardly changed thanks to Zoom. We’ve been doing our regular weekly Bible studies that way, and it’s such a blessing to see people’s faces and be able to interact with them. Our small group at church has been able to continue meeting this way. It’s wonderful to keep in touch and pray together. Sure, it’s not the same as live and in person, but it’s a fantastic substitute.
Elizabeth from New York
Rather than only sending general messages, making a message personalized can make such a difference. I know that’s hard for leaders who oversee large groups but we can definitely do it at the neighbor/friend levels so people feel genuinely loved and cared about.
Zia from Virginia
I just started a Facebook page for our neighborhood, I figure it’ll be a great way to communicate and help each other if needed.
Nicci from Fruitful Vine Woman
YOUR Creativity Matters for Loving Your Neighbors at a Distance
Quarantine and social distancing don’t have to steal our opportunities to show love and kindness. They just require a little more creativity.
As I said before the list, God has placed YOU in your neighborhood and community. You are the one he wants to use there. So please use these ideas as inspiration and pray that God would open your eyes to unique ways for loving YOUR neighbors at a distance through Spirit-empowered service.