Restoring the Sense of Community in West Michigan
Community of West Michigan
I’m lucky to live in a Community of West Michigan, which is often voted “Best place to…”. It’s full of artistic, athletic, Christian people. But over the 10 years that I’ve lived here, I feel more and more that the sense of community is dwindling.
This past Christmas, my family and I visited the program at Central Wesleyan Church . The message for the evening was on building the sense of community. The Pastor, Craig Rees, asked the congregation how many of them knew their neighbors. Like, really knew them.
I have to tell you… in that moment I shrunk down in my seat a bit. We’ve lived in our house for 2.5 years and have really only met two of our neighbors. TWO.
So on the drive home from the program, I made it my goal to work towards creating a sense of community. I’m not really one for creating New Year’s resolutions. But I am one to work towards a goal. So one of my goals for 2017 is to get to know more people around me, invite families into my home, and really make the word “Community” evident in our lives.
Building a Sense of Community
All bundled up, two days before Christmas, my big girls and I headed out, with Christmas cards in hand to knock on doors and introduce ourselves to our neighbors. Nobody answered at the very first door, so we wrote a little note on the card and left it for them to find. We visited 9 houses in all and were able to meet 4 of our neighbors in person. We left a card and a note for everyone else.
Here’s what I learned in the process:
Although with each knock on the door, I felt awkward, my children did not. They were SO excited. They brought along a clipboard and paper to write down information about each neighbor. Later that day, they prayed for each person they met. So although I felt awkward, it was painless.
Another thing I learned was how inviting a home feels if the walkway is shoveled… *cough* Andrew *cough*. So I’ve made it a point to always keep our walkway to our front door shoveled.
Achieving a Sense of Community
Some of you might recall last year, a man rang our doorbell to tell me “I live about a mile down the road, and wanted to stop to tell you your Christmas lights on your house are so pretty. It gives me something to look forward to every morning on my way to work. ”
At the time, I was so caught off guard and elated with gratitude that I didn’t think to ask for his name. I do think about him often, and his drive into work. This year the lights on our bushes got eaten by rabbits, and on of my first thoughts were that our lights weren’t as good anymore for that man.
So if you do work towards building a community, be prepared. My daughters armed with their clipboards helped us to remember each neighbors name. We have plans to head back in the spring to follow up with our neighbors.
I have a few other ways we are working towards building a community that I’ll share later. For now, comment on our facebook page post how you can work towards building a greater sense of community.