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

I just voted to help a cause I care abou

I just voted to help a cause I care about get a $25K #SFNeighborhoodAssist grant! Vote now if you want to help too! http://st8.fm/NA

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.

Ministry of Presence

Ours is a culture that places emphasis on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’. In fact, if we are not doing something, we are wasting time and resources–and perhaps we are also seen as being lazy. Mission turns our North American ideal of ‘doing’ on its head. When we enter other cultures, it is more important for the people to see us, get to know us, and to be known by us; this is the essence of a ministry of presence. Rather than coming with the intention of implementing program after program, missioners who engage in a ministry of presence spend time with and listening to the people, empowering them to believe in themselves, to identify their solutions, and to value their own opinions.

Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand. … It’s about becoming more aware, alert, awake to the fullness of the immediate moment.

If we are with another person, it means engaging with him or her with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. Such wholehearted attention requires patience, time, and disciplined effort. And it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to those around us, especially our suffering neighbor.

“Developing a Presence” in the neighborhood. We discovered just how fundamental the question of posture is to incarnational presence in the neighborhood. Here’s some of our takeaways. It involves

A.) Enters a space out of one’s own needs. We come to be “with” the people in our context. Think of how different the dynamics (to use a suburban example) are when a new parent joins a parents group in need of a place to share the loneliness/ tediousness of caring for a new born child versus a church that sets up a day care center,

B.) We come out of a “mutual” relationship sharing in what God is doing,

C.) We do not come into a context as “volunteers” offering a few hours a week. Instead, the hours we spend with people, working for justice, come from places we inhabit regularly as part of our everyday life. We hope to spend years together living life in the Kingdom,

D.) We become conduits of God’s work, pointing out what God is already doing, or where there are already resources right here to help. We therefore never run out of gas. We are truly energized. Of course we will offer our own resources not as a solution but because we are friends, part of this social reality God is bringing into being.

The Difference Between “Project” versus “Presence”

Often a church seeks to engage the community by “looking for the Next Project.” We seek a “need” in the community where we can help, bring resources and the love of Christ. What can happen though with this mentality is we

A.) Come to the project out of a posture of “pretending not to need.” We come with resources from a distance, not listening to the lives of people very well. We come out of a posture of power, control.

B.) We thereby unintentionally make the people/issue we are helping into a client/object. These dynamics work against the Kingdom.

C.) We often turn this into a volunteer effort/program where we contribute a few hours a week and it is separated from our everyday lives.

D.) Since it is mainly “us” doing something, this approach eventually leads to church burnout. It leads to a continual diet of “projects” and we never get to developing a “presence.”

When “looking for the Next Project” churches will often look for places of need in the local context. But that need will be seen through our eyes. We might even create a project or a program. When “Developing a Presence” we seek to understand “need” and the dynamics surrounding that need from the eyes of those we are “with.” We look from within for what is happening. We look for assets found in individuals and informal groups in the neighborhood. We ask a lot of questions, spend hours/days/weeks/years listening. We in essence then attempt to hop on to something already in motion. Development follows justice relationly.

Let us hear your input on this blog because ministry of presence is central to what we do in Neighborhood Transformation.

What Is A Suburb

A suburb is a residential area or a mixed-use area, either existing as part of a city or urban area or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city

Some suburbs have a degree of administrative autonomy, and most have lower population densities than inner city neighborhoods. Suburbs first emerged on a large scale in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of improved rail and road transport, which led to an increase in commuting.[1] Suburbs tend to proliferate around cities that have an abundance of adjacent flat land.[2]

As people gain wealth around the world, they all usually tend to do the same thing: spread out. A common dream shared among people of all cultures is to have a piece of land to call their own. The suburbs are the place that many urban dwellers turn to because it offers the space needed to satisfy these dreams.

Suburbs are the communities surrounding cities that are usually made up of single-family homes, but are increasingly including multifamily homes and places like malls and office buildings. Emerging in the 1850s as a result of a fast rising urban population and improving transportation technology, suburbs have remained a popular alternative to the city even today. As of 2000, about half of the population of the United States lived in suburbs.

Suburbs are generally spread out over greater distances than other types of living environments. For instance, people may live in the suburb in order to avoid the density and untidiness of the city. Since people have to get around these vast stretches of land, automobiles are common sights in suburbs. Transportation (including, to a limited extent, trains and buses) plays an important role in the life of a suburban resident who generally commutes to work.

People also like to decide for themselves how to live and what rules to live by. Suburbs offer them this independence. Local governance is common here in the form of community councils, forums, and elected officials. A good example of this is a Home Owners Association, a group common to many suburban neighborhoods that determines specific rules for the type, appearance, and size of homes in a community.

People living in the same suburb usually share similar backgrounds with regard to race, socioeconomic status, and age. Often, the houses that make up the area are similar in appearance, size, and blueprint, a layout design referred to as tract housing, or cookie-cutter housing.

This is where most of us live.

But suburbs are changing, now over 50% of the poor live in suburbs today. It is no longer in what was use to be called the inner city. There are near by government subsidized housing, mainly in apartment complexes, in just about every part of a metropolitan area. So now the poor live close to us. This means we don’t have to travel far distances to work with them, they are many times less then 1 mile from our church facility.

So look around your church and see where there is subsidized housing and begin to walk that area two by two greeting people and becoming known.

Stan

An Important Week in Neighborhood Transformation’s Life

Greetings to all. Something different in this Blog.

This week has three very important things happenings in Neighborhood Transformation’s life. A tremendous amount of time and energy has gone into making this a reality.

First we have gone live on a totally new web site which has been five months in the making. You can view it at www.neighborhoodtransformation.net  The site can now be viewed on mobile units. We have tried for less content and focusing on new people not familiar with Neighborhood Transformation. Our old web site was really focused on people who were trying to or implementing Neighborhood Transformation.

There are ways people can get involved wherever they live and at whatever position they are in. Check out the different ways you can Act, Learn or Give at http://www.neighborhoodtransformation.net/involved.php. Why not think about becoming involved today?

Second, we have finally created a 1-1/2 minute introductory video introducing Neighborhood Transformation. If you go to   http://www.neighborhoodtransformation.net/videos.php  and look at the top left hand video, ‘Transformation and You’, to view it.  What do you Think?

Third we are doing our first fund raising for Neighborhood Transformation. This is a 60 day campaign with three major letters spread over 60 days with three follow up messages in between that will tell you how things are going and share a short video. The campaign goes from Sept 15th through Nov 15th.

We have a fantastic donor who is matching every gift given up to $20,000 therefore by giving during the campaign you can double the money you give.

The focus of the campaign is to raise funds to start Neighborhood Transformation in 10 new cities across the USA. Please check out the campaign  http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs172/1102302026903/archive/1118395884692.html   Would you consider providing a gift for NT? You can do that on-line.

One thing we have found critical to get Neighborhood Transformation started in a new city and then to do the necessary coaching of churches who are trying to implement Neighborhood Transformation is a key person in the city who works with churches and non-profits there.

Such a person does not need to move overseas to become a missionary but can stay where they are and keep their job. Or if they want to go part or full time by becoming a Neighborhood Transformation Catalyst we can help you set up a non-profit coming under our umbrella 501c3 so you can raise funds for your non-profit or your personal support or expenses!  INTERESTED?? Contact stan@neighborhoodtransformation.net  to explore possibilities

Pray with me that all of these initiatives will have impact in seeing people being transformed in a wholistic way and these people will come together to transform their neighborhood from the inside out. Then as multiple neighborhood are seeing success, they join into a collation to transform their city.

Stan Rowland

CONNECT NEIGHBORS, CREATE COMMUNITY,                                           TRANSFORM NEIGHBORHOODS