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Posts from the ‘Lunch & Learn’ Category

Lunch & Learn Recap

loveneighbor3

At Tuesday’s Lunch & Learn we had the opportunity to hear from Robert (T-Ray) Manly from the Dallas Leadership Foundation.  During his talk, T-Ray shared with us how the Dallas Leadership Foundation has helped many neighborhoods across Dallas organize and build their capacity to create change.  The following are some of the highlights of the presentation:

How is DLF involved in neighborhoods?

Dallas Leadership Foundation operates in three three core areas: Neighborhood Revitalization, a Youth Leadership Movement, and Prison Collaboration.  All are focused on gospel-centered, common good transformation.

Why is the area of Neighborhood Revitalization critical to Dallas?

One primary reason is the future of our kids.  Neighborhood insecurity takes a toll on our children, and makes Dallas a difficult place for children to grow up and receive a quality education.  This perpetuates the cycle of lack of hope and well-being in our neighborhoods.  T-Ray cited these statistics on children in Dallas*:

  • Only 4% of high school seniors read at a 12th grade standard; only 1% compete in mathematics at a 12th grade standard
  • Just 42% students Dallas County are reading at or above grade level in the third grade (a key age indicator for determining future educational success)
  • Texas ranks next to last among states for hunger and child hunger
  • 29.3% of children in Dallas County (more than 190,000 total) live in families below the federal income poverty level.

*Greater Dallas Movement Day: Why Now? Fact Sheet

What learning has DLF developed to help come alongside neighborhoods that are seeking change?

One of the key ways that DLF serves is by helping identify neighborhood leaders and helping their creation of a Neighborhood Plan.  DLF invests a significant amount of time in identifying and empowering local leaders because, “Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.”

Characteristics of a neighborhood leader:

  • Has direction and vision
  • Keeps everything organized
  • Possesses the ability to motivate others
  • Builds on assets and addresses deficiencies
  • Includes everyone in the neighborhood
  • Knows how to get things done

As neighborhood leaders emerge, they become responsible for forming a leadership team that helps others become involved, shapes the organization and launches projects, and actively trains and empowers replacements to take leadership roles after them.  This establishes continuity and continued momentum for future neighborhood transformation.

Additionally, creating a Neighborhood Plan gives communities the opportunity to tell the story of their neighborhood, identify the assets and the needs present, and thoughtfully discuss how to move forward.

What are they keys for the early stages of neighborhood transformation?

Beyond identifying key leaders and stakeholders who will form a leadership team, those involved in the process should:

  • Determine jointly what areas encompass your neighborhood.  You must be able to define your boundaries in order to address the needs.
  • Begin with listening. Give people plenty of time and space to express what they’re seeing in the neighborhood.
  • Focus on the positive, but address the negative by asking, “What do we have to work with?”
  • Get everyone involved
  • Make a list of what needs to be done, and share progress with the group
  • Give yourself a few early wins, and don’t overwhelm the group with too many tasks at the beginning

In one example of how listening and a small win that led to a big impact, T-Ray shared that in a neighborhood they were partnering with, there was a nice local park that seemed to be underutilized.  When talking with a mother of young kids who lived across the street from the park, it became clear that parents resisted letting their kids visit the park because of dangerously fast traffic on the surrounding roads.  The neighborhood worked with DLF to petition for the installation of speed-bumps around the park, and the area is now a more popular and safe destination for local residents.

For those interested in starting small with neighborhood collaboration, consider joining an online neighborhood resource like www.nextdoor.com, which provides an informal but effective way to begin connecting with neighbors, and discussing the needs and assets of your neighborhood.

As BODY continues looking for ways to mobilize the Church for the well-being of Oak Cliff, let us know how these topics are resonating with you, and of other potential partners like Dallas Leadership Foundation who can help make community transformation a reality.

DLF Lunch & Learn Presentation

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Talking Before Transforming

In preparation for next week’s Lunch & Learn on the topic of how the church can be involved in neighborhood leadership development , we’ll be sharing a couple posts about the church actively engaging the community.  The article reviewed here, entitled “Before ‘Transforming’ Your Neighborhood, Talk to Your Neighbors” was originally published by Christianity Today in 2012.

“We learned to talk to each other.”

That’s what Christopher C. Smith identifies as the first step of transformation for his neighborhood of Englewood, near Indianapolis.  Long known as a neighborhood in decline with the highest vacant housing rate in the state, Englewood has recently experienced steady improvement largely thanks to the efforts of a local church.

But it came through an unfamiliar – and sometimes uncomfortable – process.

Smith, a member of Englewood Christian Church (which he describes as, “a failed megachurch that spiraled down with the neighborhood,”) says a turning point occurred when several years ago the church replaced a Sunday evening service with a weekly, open conversation on theological topics.  Discussions were sometimes heated, but the forum eventually ignited a shared vision and passion for community engagement.  This flowed into conversations with neighbors and began turning the wheels for collective action.

Smith says of the process:

“…Our church community began finding new ways to converse with our neighbors. We began to get past both frantic reaction and passive resignation to our neighborhood’s decline, and take meaningful steps that flowed out of the convictions that we found we shared in common. Familiar theological terms started to become more than hollow religious language. We realized our conversations were about more than theological terminology—they were about God’s call for us to enter into the reconciliation and flourishing of our neighborhood.

Working as individuals and congregations for the good of Oak Cliff, let’s not forget the importance of having theological backbone for our actions, and of gaining a broader understanding and perspective of God’s plan for Oak Cliff by fostering unity.

Lunch & Learn: Developing Neighborhood Leadership

Be A Part Of Loving Oak Cliff

As a follow-up to our Fall 2013 Neighboring series, join us on Tuesday, March 4, at BODY’s bimonthly Lunch & Learn meeting.

The power of neighboring goes far beyond friendly get-togethers and barbecues. Join us as we continue learning how to strengthen Oak Cliff by coming alongside those already at work in our neighborhoods and helping develop new community leaders.

Our speaker, Robert (T-Ray) Manly, Neighborhood and Community Development Director for the Dallas Leadership Foundation (www.dlftx.org), will share the methods DLF has developed to equip grassroots leadership that lead to real community transformation.

Learn more how the church can catalyze this latent capacity in our neighborhoods!

11:30am-12noon – Lunch (bring a brown-bag) | 12 noon – 1pm – Neighborhood Presentation & Discusison

Location: Christ Episcopal Church (534 West Tenth Street, 75208)

March L&L Flyer

Lunch & Learn | Neighbor the ‘Hood

Lunch & Learn is back!  After a summer hiatus, we have two good meetings planned this fall.

On September 24, join us for a community discussion on neighboring.  Mayor Mike Rawlings’ primary GrowSouth priority is to “strengthen neighborhoods.” Considering Jesus’ call to “love your neighbors as yourself,” how can we as people of faith support his agenda by getting to know and loving the people in our community?

Several Oak Cliff congregations have already committed to a joint sermon series on neighboring.  In addition, BODY will be launching a 8-week neighboring series on our blog and Facebook with practical neighboring ideas.

Therefore, I hope you’ll join us for this important topic, exploring together how we can work for God’s Kingdom in our own neighborhoods.

(See bodyoakcliff.net/neighboring)

Tuesday, September 24 | Noon – 1:00PM
Registration begins at 11:30AM (Come & Visit!)

LifePoint Church | 3203 W Davis Street, 75211 | Just east of Westmoreland 

09.24.13 - L&L (Neighboring)

Mental Illness and The Church

With the recent death of Pastor Rick Warren’s son, mental illness has been in the news. As a high profile Christian leader, the tragedy has sparked debate in the public forum about our care for the mentally ill. It’s good to see such an important issue discussed, awareness raised, and stigma confronted – just not under such heart wrenching circumstances!

Unfortunately, some of the response, especially among professing Christians, has been quite sickening. Judgment, condemnation, and ignorance has trumped mercy, love, and wisdom. It should not be so!

Therefore, this past Tuesday, BODY hosted a previously planned Lunch & Learn forum on mental illness. Joshua Pulis, Program Director at the Well Community, lead a great session on understanding mental illness and how the Church can compassionately reach out to those suffering. Follow BODY’s blog over the next few weeks as we put out some additional resources on this issue (tag = “Mental Illness”).

Until then, keep on praying for the Warren’s. May greater understanding and compassion for those suffering under the burden of mental illness flourish among God’s people!

Lunch & Learn: Mental Health 101

Mental illness affects everyone, impacting the lives of at least 1 in 4 adults in our community.

People living with mental illness need our help and hope.

the Well Community provides just that, serving as Dallas’ only ministry focusing exclusively on low-income people suffering with mental illness.

Joshua Pulis, Program Director & Worship Leader at the Well, will be sharing how you too can serve those suffering from serious mental illness.

Tuesday, April 09 | Noon – 1:00PM

Hampton-Illinois Branch Library

[NOTE: Back to our normal venue!]

04.09.13 - Lunch & Learn (MentalHealth101) image