Tag Archives: Getting to know your neighbors

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.  




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.

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.

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.

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

What is Transformation

Let us look at seven definitions of Transformation as used by different organizations

A definition given by Bryant Myers of World Vision International in his book Walking With the Poor:
“I use the term transformational development to reflect my concern for seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially and spiritually . Changed people and just and peaceful relationships are the twin goals of transformation . . . Changed people are those who have discovered their true identity as children of God and who have recovered their true vocation as faithful and productive stewards of gifts from God for the well being of all” (Bryant Myers, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development [Marynoll: Orbis Books, 1998]

The Opportunity International Network (OI) defines Transformational Development as:
“A deeply rooted change in people’s economic, social, political, spiritual and behavioral conditions resulting in their enjoyment of wholeness of life under God’s ordinances.”(Opportunity International: Transformation Indicators Paper [unpublished document: 2000]).

World Vision uses the following:
Transformation is radical change in worldview toward acting on the belief that Jesus frees me from all forms of bondage, and that in that freedom my purpose in life is to love God and neighbor in practical ways. From a transformation perspective, whatever changes occur in the community’s circumstances (access to food and water, health issues, income level, etc.) are less important than how people in the community view their circumstances.

Transform World Working Definition
Transformation is the progressive, ongoing, measurable, and supernatural impact of the presence and power of God working in, through, and apart from the body of Christ on human society and its structures. It involves seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially, and spiritually as we recover our true identity as human beings created in the image of God and discover our true vocation as productive stewards, faithfully caring for our world and its people. Deep and profound change is possible in human beings and is equally possible for the social organisms that we call communities, cities, and nations.

Transformation as Seen By CRWRC
The “transformation” we seek in communities is as deep as the human heart and as broad as the whole range of the human experience in the world God made. We want our approach to faithfully declare that our God reigns; Jesus is Lord over every inch of creation. “From him and through him and to him are all things”(Rom 11:36). We want to do community development that reflects the depth and breadth of the Kingdom. God works in us and through us to transform beliefs and actions, reflected in redeemed community, and focused on peace, justice, and righteousness.”

We in Collaborative for Neighborhood Transformation use the following:
A permanent change in one’s attitude, belief, and behavior in all areas of an individual’s life (physical, spiritual, emotional, social) who then facilitate the same changes in others; who as an aggregate, change their neighborhood from the inside out.

How Transformation is Different Then Measuring change or Social Impact
1. Transformation is a change in all areas of an individual’s knowledge, attitudes,
beliefs and behavior in all areas of their life; physical, spiritual, emotional, social
and intellectual.
2. God is actively involved in this change which is the underlying factor for long
term transformation to take place.
3. Because of the changes in individuals as they come together they begin to
transform their neighborhood from the inside out.
4. Identify bisecting interests – where the dreams of the community meet the
calling and capacity of the church, in harmony with God’s mandates
5. Recognize “common grace” of God’s work outside of church
6. Learn from goals & methods of good secular initiatives
7. Align agendas around common ground of the church and neighborhood
8. Relationships (horizontal) and prayer (vertical) are key to fruitful
intersection between community’s dreams and kingdom goals
9. Every person has opportunity to make an informed decision about Christ
10. Measure Christ-likeness in unbelievers

The heart and soul of is transformation as is stated in CNT, Vision and Mission Statements and How we go about our ministry

To see as many cities across North America transformed, neighborhood by neighborhood, in all areas of life. These cities are networked together so eventually the North America is transformed as a whole from the inside out.

CNT exist to expand transformational ministries across North America cities by creating a collaborative of partner organizations that will mutually encourage, motivate, and innovate on behalf of underserved communities. They will focus on transforming neighborhoods and then networking the neighborhoods in a city to transform the city from the inside out. In addition there is a collaborative at each city level and at the national level to see this take place

How we Go about Ministry
We Connect People, Create Community, Transform Communities and then Connect them into Collaboratives that transform large geographical areas.

Examples of Improved Ways to Do things For Others

I will be writing several blogs on examples of activities that build peoples self esteem or move them forward to beginning to do things for themselves through the coaching of others.

Christmas Gift Store
Many churches use an Angel Tree approach for Christmas gifts for poor children. But instead of doing it that way they cam up with a different version then above of a Christmas Store, Churches members still bought gifts for kids but they are delivered as an unwrapped gifts to a location in the neighborhood where the poor came to choose Christmas gifts for their kids. The prices are set at about 10% of retail value so the prices are low. The store is someplace in the neighborhood, in a church in the neighborhood or in the elementary school

The parent picks gifts they think their child would like and takes it home to wrap it and give it to their child at Christmas. Sometimes instead of paying cash a person agrees to work in the store for say two hours for each gift. Therefore even if the parent has no funds they can choose, wrap and deliver gifts to their kids. Imagine the difference in how a parent feels by being able to be the giver of that gift to their child

Back Pack Give A Way
A church in Colorado donates backpacks full of supplies at the beginning of the year for families who cannot afford them. This year, the school Family Resource Center set up a “Time and Talent” program for these backpacks. Every family that accepted a backpack agreed to give two hours of their time back to school in some form of volunteer work. Schools know that if they can get a parent to the school for a positive experience the learning and attention of their child improves. As of January, 100% of the parents had completed this commitment. Parents dignity and feelings of self worth is strengthened as they have been able to provide for their child’s school supply needs instead of being dependent on others.

Those Served Become Servers at a Church Soup Kitchen
New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church is located in Over the Rhine, a community just outside downtown Cincinnati. New Prospect serves a mostly African-American population in a neighborhood that has been left behind. Many of Cincinnati’s homeless live in Over the Rhine, and for many years New Prospect has attended to their nutritional needs through a soup kitchen in the church basement. Several years ago, a group of ministers and lay leaders in the New Prospect congregation decided to re¬examine the church’s relationship with the people it was “serving” in its soup kitchen.

The congregation designed a “Gift Interview,” of assets to explore the unknown talents of the people coming to the soup kitchen. They asked questions about the gifts and abilities people were born with; they asked about skills and the things people liked to do. They also asked about dreams and provided an opportunity for each person to express what they would do if they “could snap their fingers and be doing anything.”

What they found astonished them: here were carpenters, plumbers, artists, musicians, teachers, and caregivers, all coming to the soup kitchen at New Prospect. Here were gifted and talented people, people with dreams, and people with things to contribute. As the interviews proceeded, the people being fed blossomed as they realized they had something to contribute. As the pastor said, “Folks were telling us, ‘We don’t want to stay over here on the receiving side of the table. We’re not just recipients. We want to cross over to your side of the table, the blessing side of the table. We want to cook and serve, too. We want to belong by contributing.”‘

More and more, the original soup kitchen recipients served the food and those who had once been servers, accepted the role of recipient. They received food and sat at the tables developing relationships with those they ate with. When everyone involved in the soup kitchen could function as a server and a recipient of the gift of food, the power once associated with being the server disappeared and real reciprocal relationships began to blossom.

A Great Way to Start to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Efforts to rebuild the neighborhoods are hampered by the fact that new residents moving in, whether tenants or homeowners, do not know each other and have no knowledge of past revitalization efforts. “Many work two or three jobs to get by,” notes Nelson Butten, “and others work and go to school. They have no time to meet their neighbors.” Often no structure remains within the neighborhood to foster their involvement. The social fabric of communities, already damaged by foreclosures, is further frayed when people lack the time and opportunity to build relationships. Yet without a shared vision of what they like and what needs to be changed, residents will have a difficult time rebuilding neighborhoods hurt by the foreclosure crisis.

If you think about it, hospitality may be the most ancient and universal of community-building strategies. Throughout time and in all cultures, it has been recognized that there is no greater act of compassion and fellowship than to welcome others to share your shelter and food.

Given the isolation and fear that tends to keep neighbors from neighbors, this is perhaps more true today than it has been for many years. Food sets the mood in a NeighborCircle by saying, ‘not only are you welcome in my home, you are someone with whom I would like to break bread.’ For those who love to cook and entertain, the NeighborCircle provides a great oppor¬tunity to display talent and creativity. Many of our hosts have created elabo¬rate meals for Circle guests, but simple meals or quality take-out have worked just as well. Preparing and serving the food for the Circle should not be a stressful event, so unless the

They begin with a resident volunteering to host a NeighborCircle in his or her own home. Over the course of a month a group of 8 to 10 families will come together at the host’s home three times for dinner and conversation. The meetings are assisted by one or two facilitators trained by Lawrence Community Works.

At the first meeting, residents simply get to know each other over a meal provided by the host. They talk about the different places they have lived in their lifetime and put a pin on the map as they talk about these places. The strategy acknowledges that personal relationships are foundational to efforts to build community. In Lawrence’s diverse neighborhoods, racial, ethnic and economic differences act as barriers between residents, so a special effort must be made to create a safe place where they can come together. The facilitator may ask questions related to where they lived.

At the second meeting participants discuss what they like about their neighborhood and what they want to see changed. They begin by brainstorming ideas and issues and must emerge from the meeting with one or two things they want to work on. They meet a third time to develop strategies to address the priorities agreed to in the second meeting. The 2nd and 3rd meetings are what NT teaches as part of mobilizing a neighborhood. Some NeighborCircles continue getting together after their first three meetings in order to work through their issues. Others do not.

The facilitators are a key component of the NeighborCircles’ success. They are typically volunteers who receive a small stipend for their assistance. The facilitators receive training on facilitation techniques as well as in the NeighborCircle model. Use of volunteers means that many more NeighborCircles can be organized than Lawrence CommunityWorks staff could do on their own. The facilitators also gain valuable skills that they can use elsewhere, either in their Jobs or in other volunteer interests.