One important part of being the church in your community is to welcome new people to the neighborhood. In this post, Sam Riviera reminds us of the importance of welcoming new people, and provides some suggestions for how you can welcome new people to your area.
Have you ever been the new person or family on your block, at church or at work? Did anyone welcome you?
When we moved into our current home several years ago, there were two pastors, one seminary dean, one Christian college professor and one Buddhist who all lived within half a block of us. Which one welcomed us? Of course it was the Buddhist! We eventually had to introduce ourselves to the others.
That experience helped us decide that as followers of Jesus we should be the first ones to welcome new people, whether it be to our neighborhood, our church, our workplace or even social groups to which we belong. But how? How could we welcome people in a non-threatening way that almost everyone would accept?
Welcome New People by Giving them Cookies
One approach we discovered that has never been rejected the many hundreds of times we have used it is a freshly baked, slightly warm plate of cookies. I use this recipe (try them today!):
List of Ingredients
- One 18.25 ounce box Betty Crocker Yellow (or Butter Recipe Yellow) Super Moist Cake Mix (Absolutely no substitutions – no other brands work the same – You can pick these up on sale for about $1 a box)
- One stick butter (Again, absolutely no substitutions. Do not use margarine.)
- 2 large eggs
- One cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- One cup chopped nuts (I usually use walnuts)
- 22 chopped small Heath bars (this is about half a bag) or 11 chopped snack size Heath bars (this is also about half a bag) – This makes about one cup chopped bars
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Chop the nuts and Heath bars. Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly spray two 12 x 17 heavy duty aluminum baking sheets with cooking spray.
Melt butter. Empty box of cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla to melted butter and stir. Add butter and eggs to cake mix and stir until completely mixed. Immediately add chocolate chips, nuts and Heath bars. Stir until completely mixed.
Evenly divide to make twelve cookies per baking sheet. (If you don’t eat half the dough!) Drop by spoonfulls onto the baking sheets and flatten slightly with your hand.
Place cookies on two oven racks near middle of the oven. Bake 8 minutes, then turn pans. Bake five to seven minutes more, until golden brown. Time varies according to your oven.
After you remove the cookies from the oven, cool one to two minutes max on the baking sheet and then loosen with a spatula, or they will stick. Cool the pan a few minutes longer on a wire rack, then remove cookies and place on wax paper to cool.
We buy heavy duty plastic dinner plates (the type with no dividers), and place eight to twelve large, fresh cookies on the plate, and then cover it with clear plastic wrap.
My wife and I both go to the new people’s house and knock on their door. When the people answer the door, we say “Hello, we’re the Riviera’s. We want to welcome you to the neighborhood, so we brought you a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies.”
If the people invite us in, we reply, “We know you weren’t expecting us and we weren’t planning to come in.” (Especially if they’re just moving in, their house may be messy, which may embarrass them.) If they insist, we reply, “OK, but we won’t stay long.”
How Can We Help?
When we deliver cookies to a new neighbor we ask if they are new to San Diego. If they are we offer to help if they need to find a new doctor, plumber, or whatever.
We also offer to help them meet their new neighbors, and give them our phone number so they can call us if they have questions about San Diego or the neighborhood.
It’s Never Too Late
Even if your neighbors didn’t just move in, it’s never too late to take a plate of warm cookies to neighbors you don’t know and introduce yourself.
No One Welcomed Us!
Maybe when you moved to a new area, no one welcomed you to the neighborhood. This happens all the time.
You move into a new neighborhood and the neighbors don’t seem to notice.
If this happens, once you’ve unpacked (assuming that doesn’t take years), a warm plate of cookies is a good way to introduce yourselves to your neighbors, even if you’re the new people on the block. Also, asking them about recommended doctors, plummers, electricians, or community events is a good way to get them talking about the neighborhood and the town.
Be the Church in Your CommunityWant to be the church in your community but don't know? Here are some posts which not only explain what it means to be the church in your community, but also gives concrete, practical examples of what it looks like and how to be the church whatever you do and wherever you go. Remember, you ARE the church, and wherever you go, Jesus goes with you!
- How to Be the Church in Your Community
- The Tribe and the Church
- Church Tribes vs. the Jesus Tribe
- How to Preach the Gospel to your Neighbors
- Being the Church is Loving the Person in Front of You
- 4 Practical Suggestions for Being the Church in your Community
- Love Like Jesus by Listening to People
- Welcome New People to the Community
- Finding Jesus in Denver
- Loving Others at Walmart