Becoming Front Yard People

An everyday object has become a sacred space in the Jones’ neighbourhood.

An everyday object has become a sacred space in the Jones’ neighbourhood.

Ray and Trina Jones live with their three children and pastor an emerging community called Open Table Communities in Northumberland County, Ontario.

Three years after moving into the home where they now live, the couple was finding it hard to connect with their neighbours. Everyone spent their time inside, and when they did go outside, they stayed behind their backyard fences. How could the Joneses connect with people they never saw?

One day, a family moved into the community and, not long afterwards, something odd appeared on their lawn: a picnic table! When Ray and Trina asked them about it, the family responded that they were extending an invitation to their neighbours. They had been inspired by the book The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristin Schell and its associated movement (Front Yard People), which is spreading across the U.S. The idea is to create an “access point” where neighbours can meet by simply living life outside in their front yard. Ray and Trina loved the idea and soon set up a picnic table of their own.

Ray says the idea takes courage to implement, but it’s not difficult and only requires that they be accessible. The Joneses spend time outside every day when the weather permits. Regularly being visible and available creates chances to connect with their neighbours and the possibility of developing new and lasting relationships. The desired result is a "sacred space" where God can touch the community using ordinary people and ordinary objects and activities. 

The Jones' picnic table is helping to build a real sense of community. After only a few months, the family has made more personal connections than they have had in three years. Just a couple of weeks ago, they invited a family that lives a few houses down to join them for supper outside, and the community is also talking about organizing a block party over the Canada Day weekend. 

The Joneses don’t know where this initiative will go, but they do know that the idea of being available to their neighbours using a non-confrontational method resonated deeply with them. Just as the picnic table created an opportunity to share a meal with another family and for the community to celebrate together, the Joneses see the potential for more connections and activities to develop—and are open to what God is doing in their neighbourhood.

submitted by Dyane Ford, author, editor, and founder of the Christian Creative Nexus

Excited about the new things God is doing through Ray and Trina?

Here are some ways you can join them on mission:


  • Pray for them and the relationships they are building as they continue this exciting neighbourhood activity.