Category Archives: Transformation

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

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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 

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

CITY REACHING REQUIRES PARADIGM SHIFTS

To transform a city there must be a total Paradigm shift in the way we go about it. I am taking highlights from a paper “Ten Paradigm Shifts” which became part of his book To Transformation a City By Eric Swanson. We in CNT totally agree with his 10 paradigm shifts.

1) From building walls to building bridges. “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13,14). The first paradigm shift pertains to where we, as the church, see ourselves in relation to our communities. Will we remain outside of the community inviting people in or will we go to our communities, seeking to be a transforming agent? The church is called to be separate in lifestyle but never called to be isolated from the people it seeks to influence.

2) From measuring attendance to measuring impact. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast…mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33). In a post-modern world most people are neither impressed with the size of a church or its commitment to “truth.”  In this century, the greatest apologetic for the reality of Jesus Christ living in a community will be observational more than propositional. To have a faith that can be observed is to be living out the truths we want others to grasp and the life of the Savior we want them to know.

3) From encouraging the saints to attend the service to equipping the saints for works of service. “It is (God) who gave some to be…pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…” (Ephesians 4:11,12) In the typical church, lay people are asked to serve in several: capacities ie; Teach a Sunday School class, Work in the nursery, lead a home Bible study or small group, or  Sing in the choir

Little wonder pastors lament that only 20% of their members are “active. Could it be that the service opportunities are not broad enough to engage the energies and passions of people in the church?  Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City writes that the process of mobilizing members into ministers “starts by articulating clearly and regularly a theology of ‘every-member ministry’…

4) From “serve us” to service—from inward to outward focus. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give…” (Mark 10:45).  The church is irrelevant to most people. Take away service and you take away the church’s power, influence, and evangelistic effectiveness. The power of the gospel is combining the life-changing message with selfless service.

Erwin McManus of Mosaic Church in East Los Angeles says that the single biggest factor in his church retaining people is not personal follow-up or joining a small group; it is being involved from the very beginning in service to others in the community. When members have told him that they want the church to meet their needs his reply is “You ARE the church and together we are called to meet the needs of the world.”  We grow and are healed as we serve others.

5) From duplication of human services and ministries to partnering with existing services and ministries. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Nearly every community has a number of human service agencies that are morally positive and spiritually neutral that are doing their best to meet the needs of the underserved and under-resourced people of the community. Rather than starting a new ministry, why not form partnerships with existing groups as “partner ministries” of a local congregation?

6) From fellowship to functional unity. There is a strong case to suggest that there is really only one church in a city or community (made up of all believers) that meets in several congregations around the city. In Philippians 2:2 Paul implored, “…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Only unity of purpose around the vision of a transformed community is strong enough to unite pastors and churches of different denominations. Uniting the church around a common goal is preferable to trying to unite the church around a cooperative project.  It works because we love each other, we trust each other and we hold each other accountable,” says Fresno pastor Paul Binyon.

7) From condemning the city to blessing the city and praying for it. Jeremiah 29 begins by saying; “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem…to those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” What follows are instructions on how to live as aliens in a foreign land. Listen to his admonition: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (v. 7)

For too long we as the church have positioned ourselves as adversaries to our communities. Maybe it is time we began blessing the city by blessing those who have given themselves to the city! Perhaps the next great reconciliation movement will be between the church and the community.

8) From being a minister in a congregation to being a minister in a parish.As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it…” (Luke 19:41). A congregation is made up of people who attend a local church from a community. The minister typically feels that this congregation is his flock whom he must baptize, marry and bury. They consume his time and energy. Being in a parish is different. A parish differs from a congregation in that it is a geographical scope of concern and responsibility.  Being in a parish gives one the God-given right to minister to anyone in the community, whether they are part of one’s congregation or not. Urban theologian,

9) From anecdote and speculation to valid information. Two pieces of information changed the course of Nehemiah’s life that resulted in the transformation of a community. In Nehemiah 1, His burden to transform the city came from accurate information. We too need correct information about the real needs of our community as well as the resources we have to meet these needs.

10) From teacher to learner.Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19). It is interesting to note that for the historic African-American churches, the concept of holistic ministry is not a new concept. They have never suffered from trying to split effective evangelism from social justice or meeting the needs of those around them. It’s how they’ve always done church.