Download a Free Paper Transforming a Neighborhood

I am writing a new book and each month I am sending out an email on one chapter which you can download for free. I did the first chapter in June on Getting to know your Neighbors. This month the chapter is on Transforming a Neighborhood in your city.
 If you want to learn more click below to download an article on How to Transform an Urban Neighborhood.
Are you interested in transforming a neighborhood in your city?
If so, choosing the appropriate size of neighborhood for your ministry target area is critical.
A neighborhood may be defined as a residential portion of a city that is identified as a geographic place historically by the city. All cities are divided into zones and neighborhoods. A neighborhood might have been recently constructed by a developer, or may be a district which has been around for a hundred years. Neighborhoods can be as large as 15,000 people made up of high density apartment complexes. Many single-family neighborhoods are 3,000 to 4,000 people.
Ministry is most effectively carried out in a small geographic area since the goal is to bring neighbors to meet and identify with each other. Thus, a good way to define a neighborhood is by the elementary school it serves, which is generally 6 to 10 square blocks. This school is in walking distance and can serve as a hub for ministry.
 
God is Involved in our Neighborhoods
A crucial premise for neighborhood ministry is to realize that God is active in our neighborhoods. Thus, from the beginning it is important to discover what God is up to in the world and what it means to be the church as we move back into the neighborhood. God has imparted gifts to the people of our churches. God has already gifted and called ordinary men and women in each of our churches to participate with the Holy Spirit to do ministry.

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.

A local church is called to be a mission oriented people. The reason churches are called into existence is for their members to become God’s missionaries right where they live. For too long local churches assumed that its mission was about getting people to come to them, joining their church in the process. God has a different plan for His people where a local church is shaped by what He is up to in the neighborhoods and communities outside the church’s walls.
Our communities are changing dramatically. They are changing from those homogenized neighborhoods where everyone looked the same. Our neighbors are now a part of the new pluralized, globalized world forming before our eyes. Neighborhoods are now characterized by multiple, competing value systems living side by side in the same community.
Globalization is creating new kinds of neighborhoods across the street and around the corner from where we live. This is the work of the Spirit. As God’s people, we’re being invited to join with the Spirit by “pitching our tent” beside the varieties of cultures living all around us. Our worlds are no longer separated by national and ethnic boundaries. Jesus’ disciples of today will be shaped by engaging their neighborhoods, asking what God is up to and joining God in these places.


If you want to learn more click below to download an article on how to Transform an Urban Neighborhood.  
https://www.neighborhoodtransformation.net/download.php

Knowing Your Neighbor

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

  • Less than 10% of the people know the names of their eight surrounding neighbors.
  • Those that do, only one or two can tell you anything superficial about their neighbors.
  • Maybe one can tell you something deeper about their neighbors and these people have been intentional about getting to know their neighbors.

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:

  • Less than 10% have lived in fewer than five places in their adult life.
  • 33% have lived in 5-10 places.
  • 40% have lived in 10-15 places.
  • 15% have lived in 15-20 places.
  • 10% have lived in 20 or more places

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.  

https://www.neighborhoodtransformation.net/download.php

 

Are You Interested in Discipleship

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 stan@neighborhoodtransformation.net to get it.

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.