We were on vacation, waiting in line to eat at a fancy dock-side restaurant when I received an email from our Executive Pastor Kyle.  You may ask “Why do you read your email on vacation?” When it is from the Exec, you read it; besides I was waiting in line and I don’t wait very easily.

The opening line was “you are all over this blog!”  So I opened the blog and discovered a guy who could have been my long lost brother separated at birth, because we obliviously think alike.  The five ways to connect to people are the things I love to do.  Here is a summary of Steve McCoy’s blog Reformissionary of July 30.

5 tools have stood out this summer as helpful for connecting with our neighbors.

1. Invite Cards:  I have invite cards in my wallet, backpack, both cars, camera case, etc. I don’t drop them under windshield wipers or “accidentally” leave them lying around. The last thing people need is to feel like your church is the same as the going-out-of-business furniture store. I use them relationally. They give a better connection to our church when meeting someone or having a conversation.  LifePoint has Invite Cards available at the Guest Services booths.

2. A Tennis Ball:  Steve shares “One thing we have learned to do is always keep a tennis ball in the car, in our swimming pool bag, in Elijah’s bat bag, etc. When we are at the pool and they force that 15 minute break, we grab the ball and play “hot box” in the grass. Hot box is where you have two bases, a guy catching at each base, and everyone else is a baserunner trying to advance but not get an out. And guess what. Kids see us playing and want to join in every time we play.”  We put this into practice as we waiting for our table.  Immediately a couple of other bored kids jumped in and joined us.  Their parents began to smile and converse with us. Steve also adds  “A tennis ball is nice because it’s heavy enough to throw hard and soft enough to not damage someone. But if you aren’t baseball oriented try a good nerf football (you need to be able to really throw it or it’s worthless), a frisbee, hacky sack, bag toss (sorry, I won’t call it “c*orn hole). You have nerdy kids? Cool. Embrace it. Bring extra magnifying glasses and invite kids to burn ants. Or if nothing else works, just play a game of tag.

3. Extra ______ — (Steve really pushed me on this one.) “It’s happened to you. You are at the pool or the park and someone didn’t bring something they needed. Maybe it’s a water bottle. Maybe it’s bug spray or sunscreen. I was golfing several weeks ago and someone needed a Tums. I had one. When you go somewhere, bring extra consumables and be aware of folks around you who might be suffering from forgetting something or a lack of planning. Be over-prepared and generous.

It doesn’t need to just be consumables. Early in the Little League season it was cold and we would have plenty of blankets in the van for our family and for others if needed. Bring an extra umbrella if it might rain. It’s snowing? Bring an extra sled.

The key here is to think of others when planning for your events and outings. Whatever you need for yourself, just add more. We leave bug spray, sunscreen, umbrellas, sweatshirts, wet wipes, lawn chairs, and water bottles in the car pretty much at all times.”

4. Camera — Every time I am at the park, families are taking photos before, during and after the games.  Following Steve’s advice, I now look for an opportunity to take pictures.  This one has also happened to you.  Some family member is always left out of the picture because they are taking the shot.  This is a great way to start a conversation with people.

5. Courage — How often do you kick yourself for not striking up a conversation? I am somewhat of an extrovert.  Don’t laugh, I have not always been this easy to talk to!  Finding ways to connect with people has been a growing passion of mine for the last few years.  Each of us have to find opportunities, and open your mouth.  Steve suggests: “Want to play with us?” “ “Skittles?” Once you have a way to connect, go ahead, connect!