Dramatic Change

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.

Transformation Requires More Then Doing Things for People and Neighborhoods

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

  • Relief Doing Things for People. Provides assistance without addressing long term needs  nor using assets found in the people or neighborhood
  • Betterment or Mentoring Individuals to Change Things they Want Changed. Tend to  create short term positive, caring beneficial environments and relationships that offer participants respite or positive experiences. It deals with what the person wants to change
  • Transformation of Individuals and Neighborhoods That is wholistic and is sustainable focuses on measured changes in knowledge, skills abilities or conditions of the participants that  when combined together sees their neighborhood transformed from the inside. It is multiplying as Jesus told his disciples to do in II Tim 2:2.

 An Approach that Fosters Transformation  

  • It is a people-oriented, relationship building process.
  • It is designed to identify assets within the neighborhood found in individuals, associations and institutions, and identifies which of those assets they are willing to share.
  • Once the assets are identified, you begin to link the people you have been building relationships with, to the assets that would empower them.
  • It is based on neighbors helping neighbors, not being dependent on professionals to do things for them.
  • It is designed to build up internal and external abilities.
  • It is designed to be sustainable.
  • It is primarily a grass-root, bottom-up process which requires a person to act as a catalyst and   facilitator.
  • It is a gradual learning process progressing from the simple to the more complex and from the known to the unknown.
  • It works primarily with individuals and households and then impacts the neighborhood as a whole
  • It is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • It requires a moral and ethical focus for relationships to grow, which results from establishing  trust.
  • These ethical values are based on absolutes that do not change, but are the same year-after- year. This is based on God’s Word, the Bible.

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)

Relief. Betterment,

Development

Stan 

An Improved Way to Start Transforming a Place

It is critical that we start with what the people in the starting group (which can be a church or non-profit) feel comfortable in doing and are willing to do. They are the ones that are going to be entering the neighborhood and beginning to learn about the community. This is before we have done any asset surveys in the neighborhood to find out the neighborhood people’s skills, knowledge and passion and what they want to see different in their place. That means starting with very small pieces of their time, with things that are easy to do and requiring no continuing commitment.
In many churches, their members never get outside of the church’s four walls to reach out to nearby neighborhood people. The key is to get everyone in the game at the level they are willing to participate. This means we should:
  • Provide regular easy-entry opportunities that give people the chance to change the world. What if everyone in your church at year-end had a story to tell how he or she changed the world? Awesome!
  • Combine opportunity with inclination. Giving motivating sermons is one thing but people need the immediate opportunity to become involved, to put what they heard into action now.
  • Make it personal by people inviting their friends to join them in this specific, one time opportunity. Use the words “Do this with me.” There are three I’s necessary to attracting and asking volunteers
    • Identify specific people who would do a great job in this activity.
    • Inform them personally what they can be doing, in specific terms, if they join you.
    • Invest by giving people a chance to try out something with no strings attached before they make any greater commitment.
  • Begin with the willing. It is important to realize that not everyone is willing. Work with the early enthusiasts who are willing to get involved. Let them then tell their stories and others will come along.
This means we must give people the opportunity to do things in which they feel comfortable.
One way to do that is look at people fitting into three different groups.
  • Doing for Others: Some feel comfortable doing things for people.
  • Coaching and Empowering: Others feel comfortable developing relationships and helping people to change their lives in areas that the person wants to change.
  • Multiplying Ministry: Others desire those changed people to become multipliers by equipping them to equip others who equip others who equip others, which spreads what is happening exponentially II Tim 2:2

Another way is by accessing what type of person they are:

  • A Belong Person: You love to get people together for a BBQ or a party. You like being on the front porch with neighbors. You enjoy helping people find a place where they can relax and be themselves.
  • A Grow Person: You love to help people go deeper in their faith and relationship with Christ. Opportunities like a Bible study or discussing spiritual growth are what get you energized.
  • A Serve Person: You love to mobilize people to be the hands and feet of Jesus. You ‘d rather get sweaty mowing someone else’s lawn than get cozy in a small group discussion. You are looking for ways to help and get others to help
Both ways are similar but slightly different. Our main way of encouraging people to get involved in Transformation A Place in the past was for them to get to know their neighbors by walking around and talking to them as they see them, which is scary for many people.
Also we have suggested that a person hold a spontaneous barbecue in their driveway or yard. Both of those relate to people who are belonging types of people or people who are very relational or an empowering person, which is a similar type. That leaves out the other way of getting people involved.
We have been very aggressive in Neighborhood Transformation in encouraging groups to become involved in their local elementary school. This is a way to get different people to walk their own 2-3 blocks together, via the school where they can begin to minister on a broader neighborhood scale.   But this is further along in the steps for a Neighborhood Transformation.
We need to begin Transforming a Place  after they have chosen the neighborhood they will minister in, they begin to bless their Elementary School. This is done by asking by the Principle how can they bless their school and then do whatever they are asked to do. This allows people who love to serve or do things for others to participate. It is felt that working in a school is safer then walking in a neighborhood. It requires no commitment on the part of the person unless they want to get involved at a deeper level, such as developing relationships with kids, which many see as easier then developing relationships with adults.
We highly recommend that you find out where the different people are who will start Neighborhood Transformation and then give them a variety of multiple, regular opportunities with different levels to participate in where they are. This means opportunities for those who develop relationships by walking around and other opportunities for people who do things by blessing the school.
GIVE IT A TRY

Developing Relationships

 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.

Challenge:
Think about the game tic-tac-toe  with your house in the central spot and there are 8 neighbors surrounding you. I challenge you to begin to develop relationships with as many of those eight neighbors as you can. Even if it is only one or two.

More on Prayer Walking

I am trying something new in my blog. I look forward to your reaction.
Prayer Walk your Neighborhood and Pray for the things that you see.
 Prayer Walk your neighborhood and pray for things you see.

As you see things, pray for what you see both good and bad.

Learn about your neighborhood by walking through it and talking to people as you see them.

Learn about your neighborhood by walking through it and talking to people as you see them. As you see things pray for what you see both good and bad. Ask God to open your eyes to what he sees when he is looking at this place.

Prayer walking is central to what we do in Neighborhood Transformation. It gets us into the neighborhood and begins to open us up to view the place through God’s eyes, not your our own. As you walk you pray for what you see.
As you know Helping communities out of poverty and people to maturity in Christ is our cause. www.neighborhoodtransformation.net
 What do you think?

Most People Don’t Know Their Neighbor Do 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 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 stan@neighborhoodtransformation.net know what happened when you walked about.

Prayer Walking

Prayer Walking is walking around the place where you are trying to implement Neighborhood Transformation. Without prayer, no transformation takes place, therefore it is central to what we do.

Prayer walking is praying on site with insight. It is intercession on location. It is praying for what we see as we walk and while we are doing this God sometimes gives us specific things to pray about.

Why do Prayer Walking:

  • To seek God’s blessing, mercy and transforming power for the neighborhood.
  • To pray for the neighborhood we are working in to see it through God’s eyes.
  • We will pray for ourselves to be servants in the neighborhood.
  • We talk to God for others in the neighborhood.
  • It’s done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • To become in harmony with God’s agenda and not our own.

It is important to do Prayer Walking in your chosen neighborhood because: It allows us to see firsthand what the neighborhood is all about. We also get to see the neighborhood through God’s eyes. God will show us things we normally do not see when we are in the neighborhood. God will break our heart for the people and the neighborhood and the Holy Spirit will reveal things to us we never would have thought of alone.

In Neighborhood Transformation we like to do Prayer Walking at the very beginning of the program to get God’s view of the neighborhood and to set us off on the right path. But we don’t stop there, we do it multiple times during the Entering the Neighborhood phase. We also do it when the neighborhood association is in place and with interested people in the neighborhood

Here are some guidelines that help us see the impact from our prayer walking:
Join with other believers and meet at an assigned time. Start with group prayer and then walk in groups of 2s or 3s. Covers as much of the neighborhood as possible by having different teams do different segments of the neighborhood.

The key is to focus on God and pray aloud in a quiet conversational voice. Make sure you do not call attention to yourself. If anyone asks what you are doing be prepared to respond, “We are praying God’s blessing on this neighborhood.”

Be observant of what you see as you walk and pray. At the same time be open to anything God impresses on you as you walk. Also be open to interact with people in an informal way as opportunities arise. Walk for half hour to an hour. As you walk, reflect on your observations.

Afterwards, gather to share your prayers, observations and experiences with the others in the group. Make sure to encourage people to continue to pray for the neighborhood during the week on what they saw and their reflections.

We are in a battle and according to the Bible we are fighting against”

  • In II Corinthians 10:3-4, we are in a fight with Satan
  • In James 4:7, we are to resist the devil
  • Habakkuk 1:5, says we are to be astonished and see God work

We are to pray more intensely:

  • Outside meeting places where false worship is taking place
  • Where spiritists and card readers perform
  • Around jails, courts, and government offices
  • On high places overlooking our neighborhood
  • Outside bars, gambling places, and houses of prostitution

So you can see that Prayer Walking is critical to what we do in Neighborhood Transformation.

 Call to Action

We challenge you to do prayer walking around your home. Do it around four square blocks of your place.

After you have done that reflect on what you saw, heard and were impressed by God about.

Stan