Tag Archives: community

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.

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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.

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.

Involvement in a Cause

It is important that people find a cause that they resonate with and then get involved at the level of their interest and amount of time they are willing to give. People are involved in different activities based upon their interest in a cause.

  • The first level is Expose where people are testing the water to see what the cause is all about and if it matches their interest
  • The second level is Engagement where they have tested the waters and there seems to be a fit and people want to become more involved
  • The third level is Own which their interest and the cause are in sync and the person knows they want to be involved.

This process can be likened to a funnel

EEO Funnel 1 

Below are ways in which show ways that people can become involved in transforming a neighborhood in each of the three levels. The A indicates activity while L indicates Learn

Expose/Entry Level

Walk in the neighborhood with others, gathering information through senses (A)
Go to neighborhood meeting with someone else (A)
Help prepare for an event (A)
Participate in an event in the neighborhood with others (A)
Introduce NT to church or friends(A)
Do prayer walking in neighborhood with others (A)
Go along with some doing Asset Mapping (A)
Provide administrative help occasionally  remotely or face to face(A)
Create interest in your area of influence to learn more about NT  and to hold an initial training (A)
Input data to set up database for asset responses (A)
Provide needed materials or funds for an event. (A)
Read books about cause from Reading List (L)
Small Group Introduction to NT Principals (L)
Learn about Discipline of Love and create possible list (L)
See movie Bless Child at Home and debrief as group (L)
                                                                          Engagement Level
Learn why and how to do Asset Mapping (L)
Do Asset Mapping in neighborhood with neighborhood activities (A)
Begin to talk about NT to others informally (A)
Help organize and do an activity or event in the neighborhood (A)
Spend time on their own in the neighborhood (A).
Be involved in organizing a NT training with church & or friends
Input regularly asset responses into database and manipulate it looking for patterns (A)
Teach a small group in the neighborhood something they know well and feel comfortable in (A&L)
Participate in Neighborhood Association meetings (A)
Start Neighborhood Transformation training (L)
Apply Disciplines of Love with chosen individuals (A)
Small group six session study (L)
                                                                  Own Level
Continue training and start applying what is learned in the target neighborhood (L&A)
Do Asset Mapping door to door, bringing new people with you (A)
Become part of the facilitation team and begin to do ministry in the neighborhood. (L&A)
Lead small group trainings around the groups interests even if new to the facilitator (L&A)
Train potential new workers in segmented training (L&A)
Make presentations on NT to explain what NT is and elicit  people becoming part of NT (A)
Regularly support NT financially (A)
Invite new people to join you as you do some of your activities in the neighborhood. (A)

Look around and decide how you can become involved in transforming a neighborhood, then do something. Don’t just look and wish, make it happen. Get started today!

Getting Started in Your Churches Neighborhood

Happy New Year. I am blogging again and have laid out 17 different blog posting which I will post twice a month, here on my Urban CHE Guy Blog at https://urbancheguy.wordpress.com/  If I keep on track this will take us with a different blog every two weeks through September 2014.

This is a series of blogs which will start with a couple of core values that are behind what we do in Neighborhood Transformation which I realize I have posted before. Then we will begin a series of blogs on different elements in a Neighborhood Transformation program in a neighborhood and how to go about implementing Neighborhood Transformation in your neighborhood.

The Topics Will Include:

  • Blog 1  Introduction to Series on Getting Started
  • Blog 2  What is Wholistic Mission
  • Blog 3  What is Transformation
  • Blog 4  What is Poverty
  • Blog 5  Why a City
  • Blog 6 Urban Poor Neighborhood
  • Blog 7  Learning about Suburbs
  • Blog 8  Observations About Urban Churches and Why they should Minister in their Neighborhood
  • Blog 9  How an Urban Church can Get Started
  • Blog 10 Knowing Your Neighbor
  • Blog 11 How to Know Your Neighbor
  • Blog12  Prayer Walking
  • Blog 13  How to Gather Information in Your Neighborhood
  • Blog 14  Drawing a Map of Your Neighborhood
  • Blog 15  Using the Information
  • Blog 16  Identifying and Using Assets
  • Blog 17  Focusing on the Elementary School as Way to Draw People Together

In reality this will introduce you to topics we cover in a Weekend Training of Trainers BUT without the group interaction which is very important.

We hope to see three results from these Blogs:

  1. You register to receive this blog automatically
  2. As you read each blog you Ask yourself the Question, How does this apply in what I am doing in my ministry. Once you think of a way to apply the idea or example you put it into action
  3. You actually chose a neighborhood where you live or you church is located and begin applying what you are learning in real life.

Neighborhood Transformation has people around the USA that can help you get started by holding a weekend Training of Trainers, Thursday and Friday nights 6 to 9 PM and all day Saturday. This is a 13 hour series. They are also available to visit you to answer specific questions based on your situation and to mentor you as you begin to start Neighborhood Transformation in your place.

I can be reached at stan@neighborhoodtransformation.net  and our Collaborative for Neighborhood Webpage can be found at http://www.neighborhoodtransformation.net

Why It important to Look for Transformation

  • so we can see how God is working and to what degree and in what areas of individual and neighborhood life.
  • It  allows room for God to act.
  • To better manage programs
  • Motivation for leaders of transformation, committee members and people doing the work.
  • Helps committee supervise the workers and direct the project.
  • Is motivation for all stakeholders and neighborhood people.
  • Demonstrates accountability
  • Evaluate progress of different elements in the program.
  • Others can see the validity of the program.
  • To satisfy donor/investor requirements
  • To raise public awareness of the issues being addressed
  • To find areas where transformation is not taking place.
  • Identifies needs and interests in the neighborhood which are not being met.
  • To demonstrate effectiveness of the program.
  • It informs others of good practices that could be used elsewhere.
  • Helps looking for outside resources as the reports validity requests

Questions that Might be Asked So That We Can Look for Transformation

  • What would the neighborhood look like where people lived the Golden Rule?
  • What would the neighborhood look like where everyone could read?
  • What would the neighborhood look like if every student graduated high-school?
  • What would the neighborhood look like in regard to crime, abuse, and violence?
  • What would the neighborhood look like if every orphan had a mentor?
  • What would the neighborhood look like if the weak were empowered?
  • What would the neighborhood look like if God’s Kingdom were operative?