As we search for how God wants us to be involved in ministry we are well served by asking new questions. Our insights and habits can begin to be reshaped as we ask questions about God, ourselves, and our neighbors. What does it mean to be God’s people in a community? Does God intend to erase the boundary lines of who my neighbor is? When we ask questions in the light of God’s intent, our perspective goes beyond what is inside the church walls but becomes something entirely different.
If you want to learn more click below to download an article on how to Transform an Urban Neighborhood.
Think of your house or apartment as the center of a Tic-Tac-Toe diagram, with eight spaces around you being residences surrounding you.
Can you name all of the people living in the 8 houses or apartments closest to you?
If you answered the first question, can you think of something about their life that is not visible from the outside of their house?
If you were able to answer the second question, do you know any superficial facts not seen from the outside?
If you answered the first two questions, do you know anything personal about them? Would you consider them a friend and do you help them when needed and they help you?
Results from this exercise
Most people don’t know the names of their neighbors, let alone anything personal about them. It’s typical for many people to have lived in their current residence for a short time. It’s easy for people to feel isolated and not care if they know their neighbors or not. People find it difficult to know who to go to if they need help.
How Many Different Places Have You Lived in during your lifetime?
Asking hundreds of people in US cities this question, we found the following:
This shows us that Americans are very transient. Many people only live in one place for two or three years. Most people are very busy at work and with their kids, taking them to their different activities. Therefore, they don’t have time for their neighbors, so why make the effort?
Even those who have lived in a place a long time, who used to take cookies to their new neighbors or helped their neighbors, have stopped. They once knew most of their neighbors but today they know they won’t be there long, so why go through the effort.
Are you interested in learning how you can be intentional about meeting your Neighbor? If so click below to download an article on how to Know Your Neighbors.
If so discipleship is central to what happens in Neighborhood Transformation.
A disciple is a learner with the intent to learn from the master and then pass on what he has learned onto others as he puts it into practice in his own life. It focuses on making obedient disciples. It is not just focused on making converts. It is also builds multiplying disciples whose impact expands Jesus’ kingdom. It is discipleship where people practice their following of Jesus Christ in every act of their daily life. It is where word and deed are intertwined, not parallel tracks of life. It is a strategy that occurs when a disciple is following God’s direction. It does needs right principles to be applied. It is ongoing, unstoppable and out of control. It is not hierarchical, systematic, or highly structured and tightly managed.
It’s a rapid multiplication of groups and churches. It is not slow, sequential, methodical addition. It’s simply about churches rapidly planting new churches. It is not primarily about expansion of denominations, or growth of organizations. It thrives in an environment of persecution and chaos. It is messy. Disciple making does not do well in a peaceful environment of significant controls, policies, and procedures.
Discipleship focuses on replication. It is not about growing large, highly programmatic, organizations but rapidly multiplying small groups that have a core value of discovering where God is at work by finding a person of peace. It is not about starting church services and inviting people to come. It is about the church emerging from within the culture of the people. It is not about calling the people out of their culture to form a new organization. It’s locally led. While often started by outsiders, it is not led by outsiders who intend someday to turn over the ministry to the people of the community.
It is family-based. It does not seek to extract individual respondents from their families and communities, re-acculturating them and then sending them as semi-outsiders back to their communities, which is powered by ordinary people; unschooled and non-credentialed. It is not driven by highly trained and credentialed professionals. It’s counter-intuitive. It does not fit management theory or organizational development. It’s about developing independent leaders. It is not about building a mass of followers.
It is about simple men and women with the simple gospel for simple people. It is not sophisticated and complex. It’s inexpensive. Once begun, discipleship expands without outside resources at all, which is making disciple-makers of every member. It is not about the few reaching the multitudes. It does not make buildings a priority. The church meets within the community of the people. It places a high level of commitment on the health and welfare of the people; people caring for one another. It is not a strategy of hiring professionals to care for the needs of the people.
Churches never emerge without a heavy commitment to prayer. It has a saturation commitment. It believes in a church for every people. Nor is it about planting a denominational church in every community. The goal is a rapidly expand movement under God’s direction through the people in the neighborhood who want to see God’s kingdom established in their neighborhood.
The goal is a rapidly expanding movement that is growing exponentially neighborhood by neighborhood until it transforms the city. A movement is a group of committed people embracing a common purpose moving towards well-defined goals and who are committed to the spread and multiplication of these objectives. It is based on winning, building, and sending people.
Are you interested in getting a free 10 lesson workshop on Making disciples email me at email@example.com to get it.
I heard Brenda Salter McNeil convincingly speak at the Christian Community Health Fellowship Conference in May 2016. She also wrote a great book Road-map to Reconciliation 2015, IVP Books Downers Grove, IL which I bought. Her whole approach is on Reconciliation primarily between races but also where you have opposing ideas and practice between two groups. I have written a couple lessons on, but not published yet. An approach to reconciliation between two groups which hold radically opposed positions which they guard to the core. The groups are so entrenched in their positions they reject out of hand what the group is saying.
The books outlines a five step process to reconciliation but after doing the lesson plan what she is saying applies to radical change which is what Neighborhood Transformation is all about. There is the much more traditional beliefs by Christians which separate them into two camps, those doing evangelism and those doing Justice with very few holding the Biblical basis of Jesus. It is both. Also Christians have a tendency to separate functions into the evangelists and the social workers with few understanding we must be doing both together being wholistic. Also we are paid to do the work and members who if work generally only inside the four walls of the church. We must take the position we are all called missionaries where we are now. We see many people who just keep doing things for people instead of empowering them to change what they want changed.
Change is the central issue for those involved in transformation for what they are trying to accomplish. All of the above needs a catalytic event to shake people out of their old ways of doing things, the status quo. They then need a process for moving from where they are to an entirely new position. So I am presenting a capsule view of her process asking could this be of help to you who are trying to see transformation take place
Starting Point for Change, A Catalytic, Shake it Up
There must be a Catalytic Event to shake them out of their self-preservation and isolation mode which is natural. We try to preserve the values and way of life that defines us. People have to come to the realization that things might have to change before things can get better. Generally coming to this point requires some catalytic event that moves us to begin to consider this option. This kind of event causes us to consider moving from the stagnation of life in a homogenous group. Acts 22 which gives us the catalytic event Saul went through to become Paul
Transformation requires disruption and a degree of chaos to increase the urgency that change must happen. This causes chaos which we must embrace. Disruption is absolutely necessary for the reconciliation process. A catalytic event will either push us forward toward transformation or tighten our tether to preservation. Catalytic events cause chaos and chaos is resisted by most people because they want to be in control.
A catalytic event sometimes happens when someone read the book Where Helping Hurts or Toxic Charity that both show most help really hurts people they have desired to help. Another example is when a person goes overseas for the first time and sees deep poverty and they are blown away. This causes them to rethink what they have been doing. It pulls them up short.
There are four other steps which a person or group must go through if there is to be a dramatic change in the way people think and act. I will share them with you in my next blog.
For transformation to take place people and neighborhoods must decide they want something different than what they currently have. Then they must care enough that they are willing to do something about it to see the change take place. If that desire and action are not there then no matter what we do for others might be good but generally transformation does not take place. Transformation comes from inside people themselves and neighborhoods.
But we as Western Christians are focused on doing things for others. People might say sure I would like that and gratefully accept whatever we do for them but does that transform them or their neighborhood? The answer is No.
There are three ways of helping people and neighborhoods
An Approach that Fosters Transformation
There is a place for doing all three but we find most groups are doing relief which fosters dependency What are you doing in your ministry Relief, Betterment or Transformation? Make up a worksheet you can see what your church or organization is doing. Itr will have the following headings
Worksheet for Existing Community Ministry
|Ministry||What Do||Location||Leader||How Church Assists
(Financial, Church Member on Own, Provides Volunteers)
Another way is by accessing what type of person they are:
Why People Need Relationships with Others
In the beginning, God created Eve, not only to help Adam, but to share his life. God put this need inside him. God created us to have a relationship with Him, so much so that He wants us to have relationships with each other. A relationship is the process of give and take; we need to give as much as we need to take. Though people differ in their characters and cultures, they still share common characteristics that enable them to build relationships with one another. Though people differ in their characters and cultures, they still share common characteristics that enable them to build relationships with one another. If you are facing difficult situations, or going on a hard journey, you will not feel the suffering as much if you have good company.
How People can Develop Good Relationships with Each Other
So they know and respect each other. For this to happen we must spend time together therefore proximity to each other is important so see each other regularly and spontaneously. We need to have Open and honest conversations with each other. We need to talk about things that are important to both of us. We should enjoy doing things and times together. We should pray with each other.
The key is develop a strong friendship where we listen to each other. There is good back and forth communication. We need to look out for the needs of each other. We should not expect too much of the other, thus avoiding frustration or hurt. There needs to be Borders- where love is not stifling, but there is room for freedom and respect for privacy. We need to be able to confront each other with love and gentleness. You can say no , as we are not always available all the time. There must be trust and transparency with the ability to forgive each other.
Why Relationships are so Critical to Neighborhood Transformation
Relationships are central to Neighborhood Transformation, because without relationships will never get started or succeed. NT is neighborhood based therefore built on neighbor knowing neighbor and have some relationship with each other. We define real community” being all about relationships. Nothing happens in NT without relationships. People must first know each other to develop relationships and if they are going to help their neighbor they need some level of relationship. People only help each other when there is some kind of relationship. A strong Network of people working together only comes through relationships.
Can you name all of the people living in the 8 houses or apartments closest to you?
If you answered the first question, can you think of something about their life which is not visible from the outside of their house?
If you were able to answer the first two questions, do you know other things about each person in the eight homes? Would you consider any of them friends?
Many of us have lived in more than five places since becoming an adult. Some have lived in more than 20 places.
Most people don’t know the names of their neighbors, let alone anything personal about them. It’s typical for many people to have lived in their current residence for a short time. It’s easy for people to feel isolated and yet not care if they know their neighbors or not. People find it difficult to know who to go to if they need help.
A COUPLE OF WAYS TO GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
Watch this funny video on doing a barbecue found at Funny video on Neighborhood BBQ
Begin walking a two-block area around your house. As you walk and see someone, greet them and introduce yourself if you don’t know them.
Plan a potluck barbecue in your driveway or common area of the apartment building and invite neighbors to bring their meat to barbecue and a dish to share. At the barbecue talk to neighbors and encourage people to get to know one another. Find out what they like about the neighborhood and what one thing they might want to change.
Another way to get to know your neighbor is Mission By Walking Around. It involves individuals and small groups of motivated people walking around a small area using their observation skills and talking to people along the way.
Craig told a story about a big city church, built on the streetcar line in the 1900’s but, like many city churches, its members now commute. To their credit, these parishioners came back to the much changed neighborhood and offered programs in the church; they run sports programs, a food program etc., but there was a sense that they were not making inroads. After some facilitated reflection, some parishioners organized a neighborhood walk. Small groups of parishioners decided to simply walk the neighborhood.
Craig said, “At the debriefing after the first walk they looked at each other and said, “Well, we are here (alive)!” You see, for all their good intentions they viewed the neighborhood as foreign and dangerous, and indeed many neighborhoods do look like that until you get to know them. While we may sing, “This is my father’s world,” we mentally exclude the neighborhood in which our church is situated; perhaps we exclude the area where we live as well. In contrast, the good people of that city church followed up their initial walk by finding out where people actually gather and began to connect with them at those places. I don’t think that church will ever be the same again.” Would that be good news if it happens to your church?
CALL TO ACTION
It’s important to know our neighbors. We can help and encourage one another, build friendships, and feel needed.
If you’re not sure how to start to know your neighbors, or would like more ideas, consider reading the book The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyan.
Let me firstname.lastname@example.org know what happened when you walked about.