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Lunch & Learn Recap

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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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CONNECT | Working your Block Map

The first step in connecting with your neighbors is moving from stranger to acquaintance through the creation of a block map.  This tool serves a few different purposes.  Block maps:

  • help you learn the names of your closest neighbors
  • identify gaps in your knowledge about your neighbors and their story
  • provide a reminder to pray for and serve your neighbors
  • become a launchpad for organizing gatherings

For such a simple tool, these are enormous benefits.  If you’re anything like me, prone to forget names and living in a transient community of apartment-dwellers, just recalling people’s names when I see them next is a huge step forward.  Having a block map to record your neighbors’ names and additional information will go a long way toward helping you reflect Christ’s love by interacting on a more significant level.

How do I start?

We’ve provided a block map on our resources page that you can print off and fill out.  Start with whatever information you know, and don’t forget to put your own home on the map!  Although the page is laid out to resemble a street block, feel free to personalize it based on your surroundings.  You can do this by including the addresses or apartment numbers of your neighbors.  Hang it where you’ll see it frequently — such as on your refrigerator, by a bathroom mirror, or near a wall calendar if you have one.   The key is to have it in a prominent spot as a practical reminder that this is a priority for you.

What should you put on your block map?  In addition to names, consider including:

  • birthdays
  • ages of children
  • occupations
  • contact information (offer to exchange your information)
  • hobbies, interests, parts of personal story (i.e. “Recently moved from Ohio” or “Rangers fan”)

The sky’s the limit!  Whatever will help you remember and serve your neighbors better is what you should include.

Still see several blank boxes staring at you?  Don’t be discouraged; this is where neighboring begins.  If you need a little inspiration for ways to connect with those you don’t know yet, check out this post.  It’s often hard or awkward to approach a neighbor of several months or years whom you still don’t know, but being frank and apologetic about your lack of communication with them can go a long way toward establishing a foundation for friendship.

Remember, this step is just about making that initial contact and learning some basic information about your neighbors.  Next time, we’ll talk about how to use your block map to deepen these newly-formed relationships.

Get on the Bus! DISD School Tour (RSVP Today!)

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a Dallas ISD student is really like? 

Have you ever visited a Dallas ISD school?

Now is your chance to better understand the successes and challenges of Dallas ISD students and schools.

The 2020 Tour is an educational experience focusing on the students, teachers, and principals of DISD while simultaneously exploring classrooms, schools, and communities.

This tour will give you the opportunity to learn about feeder patterns, engage in learning experiences, and discover tangible ways to support Dallas ISD students.

To learn more, see available dates, and to register, go online to www.dallasisd.org/2020tour.  Space is limited; reserve today.

Thurs, April 11 • 9:30-1:30
B.H. Macon ES
E.B. Comstock MS
H. Grady Spruce HS

Thurs, April 18 • 9:30-11:30
John W. Carpenter ES
Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. MS

CHANGE in PLANS: Grace for the Afflicted seminar

There’s been a change in plans regarding Thursday’s “Grace for the Afflicted” luncheon.

Dr. Stanford’s father is seriously ill and he has had to back out of the engagement. We hope to reschedule Dr. Stanford at some point next year. Please keep him and his father in your prayers.

Therefore, you have two options: (1) feel free to back out yourself and we’ll gladly refund your registration fee, or (2) join us for lunch on Thursday and discuss how we can engage the Church going forward in caring for those with mental illness.

Most of the registrants are already strong mental health advocates.  Therefore, the new plan will allow us to hear about the resources offered to congregations by Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Also, they seek feedback on how they engage and partner with local congregations.

Therefore, despite the change in plans, I hope you can make it on Thursday. Your voice and thoughts are needed!

Don’t forget to register or you won’t have a lunch!  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4634010450#

Recovery in Christ, When Life is Broken

In May, a neighbor came to me and sought help with his alcoholism.  I’ve counted it as a privilege to walk with him over the last 12 weeks as he’s begun the journey of  recovery.  And I do mean privilege – I’ve been nothing but inspired by his courage and in wonder at God’s grace that is so evidently at work in his life.  He was recently baptized, is volunteering at a local ministry, and is now two months sober and counting!

I didn’t enter the summer thinking of starting a recovery ministry.  However, God had something in mind.  A group of men and women have gathered and are being trained – other addicts and those struggling with bad habits, hang-ups, and hurts.  Already, we’ve got two facilitators meetings going – one for men, another for women – working to raise up leaders for the ministry.  the Well Community’s weekly recovery meeting has been expanded from one per week to two and is now facilitated by Community Members – addicts helping addicts.

On Wednesday, August 15, the group is starting an open meeting for anyone seeking recovery from an addiction.  While I won’t be present at the meeting, I’m confident in the team and excited to see what God is doing in and through them.

  • Who: Those struggling with bad habits, hurts, and hang-ups
  • What: A Christian recovery and 12-Step program, focused on Jesus and supporting each other.
  • When: Wednesdays, beginning August 15 | 6:15-7:30pm
  • Where: Cliff Temple Baptist | 125 Sunset Ave, Dallas |Room 213

Feel free to pass on the invitation to those needing help.  For more information, contact Joel Pulis (joelpulis AT bodyoakcliff.net)

Making the Kingdom Tangible

According to a recent survey, of the 9 in every 10 Americans who identify themselves as Christian, only a 1/3 of these actually participate in a faith community with any regularity. Many faith seekers have tried different churches, methods, programs, leaders, teachers, and styles only to discover that nothing holds their interest.

The Tangible Kingdom Primer, a resource created by Hugh Halter, missional author and pastor of Adullam Communities, was written for those who are trying to nurture authentic faith communities and for those who have struggled to retain their faith. The resource offers ideas and practices that outline an innovative model for creating thriving grass-roots faith and missional communities.

On August 15, BODY will be sponsoring a Tangible Kingdom study in partnership with Cliff Temple Baptist Church.

  • Who: All are welcome!
  • What: A 12-week study and small group experience that explores missional living and community.
  • When: Wednesdays beginning Aug 15 ▪ 6:15pm-7:30pm |
  • Where: Cliff Temple Baptist | 125 Sunset Avenue, Dallas
  • How: Come on August 15!

Other details:

  • Group Facilitators: Joel Pulis, Brent McDougal, Scott Coleman, Bo Bartlett
  • Cost: $15/book

Sessions:

  1. 15-Aug | Introduction
  2. 22-Aug | Why the Need for New Models & Practices
  3. 29-Aug | (1) What is Missional?
  4. 5-Sep | (2) What is Incarnational?
  5. 12-Sep | (3) The Gospel
  6. 19-Sep | (4) What is Community?
  7. 26-Sep | (5) Living Out
  8. 3-Oct | (6) Inviting In
  9. 10-Oct | Debrief Parties (Participants are encourage to plan a party between September 24 and October 09 and invite some “sojourners”)
  10. 17-Oct | (7) Becoming an Apprentice
  11. 24-Oct | (8) The Intuitive Life
  12. 07-Nov | Celebration & Next Steps