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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.

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The “Art” of Neighboring

As we examine neighboring, we want to point you to key resources on the topic, and to examples of communities that are already living out these ideas.

Colorado pastors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon have written an excellent book on Jesus’ call to take the Great Commandment seriously — and literally.  Entitled The Art of Neighboring, the project was birthed out of the authors’ own experiences in learning how to build genuine relationships with those living next door.  Pathak and Runyon explain not only the biblical underpinnings for loving our neighbors, but also share openly about their own successes and failures, and how they broke through personal fears and challenging circumstances to develop genuine relationships.

Map of the Denver area showing households that have committed to neighboring their communities.

Map of the Denver area showing households that have committed to neighboring their communities.

A neighboring movement has spread across the Denver metro area.  Since releasing their story, other areas have begun neighboring movements including cities in Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Virginia, and Northern California.

Read more about the Denver initiative in this article by the Denver Post.

Click here to order the book, or read Joel’s review to spark new ideas for your neighborhood.  Also, learn more about the Denver initiative in this article by The Denver Post.

The Great Commandment is a matter of obedience to those who know and follow Jesus. We don’t love our neighbors so they will know Jesus; we love our neighbors because we already love Jesus and trust him. We are called to love our neighbors, even if our neighbors never show any interest in Jesus, because we have made Jesus our highest priority. [The Art of Neighboring, location 1233]

The BIG Vision of Neighboring!

For the past two summers, I’ve had the joy of working with a local youth group and doing some leadership training and coaching.  At the beginning of our times together, I’ve sent the students out into their neighborhood with a simple question: “What kind of world would you like to live in?

How would you answer?  

The students polled a diverse group – business people on their lunch break, blue collar construction workers, mothers with their children in tow, etc.  From such a demographic you would expect a divergence of answers, but the responses were amazingly similar (and that surprised even me, and I kinda knew what I was looking for!).

Across the board, the replies described a vision of love, joy, and peace, of health and provision.  In debriefing with the students, they immediately got it – “They’re describing what Jesus and the Bible describes and promises!”  And they were right, for the respondents clearly indicated a longing for the fulfillment of the prophets, a manifestation of what Jesus said and did, and a desire for the “new heavens and new earth.” “Kingdom come” is what they wanted, even among folks that wouldn’t put it in these categories.

As a pastor and follower of Jesus, this is what I’m after.  But the question emerges, “How do we get there, how do we work toward this end?”  I’d like you to consider that the solution might be somewhat more basic than we have ever thought.

I’ve recently tapped into a network and growing movement that is taking Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor” seriously and practically.  In Denver, a group of pastors have rediscovered the “art of neighboring.”  Consider…

What if the solution to our society’s biggest issues has been right under our noses for the past two thousand years? When Jesus was asked to reduce everything in the Bible into one command he said: Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. What if he meant that we should love our actual neighbors? You know, the people who live right next door…  But the fact is, Jesus has given us a practical plan that we can actually put into practice, a plan that has the potential to change the world. The reality is, though, that the majority of Christians don’t even know the names of most of their neighbors.  [The Art of Neighboring, location 159]

It’s difficult to quantify the results of good neighboring. What we do know is that when people get to know their neighbors, good things start happening. Real relationships are formed. And these relationships make a difference. Neighbors start to work together… [And] these small acts add up to something significant. [The Art of Neighboring, location 1896]

I’m enough of a realist to recognize the limits of neighboring.  However, praying “kingdom come,” I’m also willing to hit the streets, working to get to know my neighbors.  I hope you’ll join me in answering this call.  Who knows, maybe we’ll change the world (beginning a block at a time!)

A Call to Neighboring

How well do you neighbor?  You may never have considered the question, for we traditionally have thought of “neighbor” as a noun – just the person that lives next door.  But “neighboring?”  That entails actual and meaningful engagement with those living around you, the hard work of seeking the common good of all in your neighborhood.

A “neighbor” is both the person who lives near another and one who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow humans.  Are you that kind of person?  Most of us would give ourselves a pat on the back in this regard.  I’m a “good neighbor!”

But, “to neighbor,” that’s all together different.  As a verb, neighboring sends us out and challenges us to really know those in our community.  Think of how different would our cities be if people actually took the time to develop relationships and really care for one another.

In the scriptures, a primary instruction of Jesus is to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”  However, the truth is many of us really don’t have any kind of meaningful relationship with those nearby.   Reasons abound – busyness, fear, neighborhood and home design, other associations – but the command remains the same!

Therefore, over the next eight weeks, BODY Oak Cliff will be exploring this issue, sharing stories and providing practical resources for engaging with your neighbors.  The initiative will be in conjunction with several Oak Cliff congregations that will be focusing their October Sunday services on the call to neighboring.

I hope you will follow the conversation and consider moving toward greater engagement with your neighbors!  Are you willing to answer the call?

(See http://bodyoakcliff.net/neighboring for more resources).

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Lunch & Learn | Neighbor the ‘Hood 

09.24.13 - L&L (Neighboring)

TOMORROW!!!  On September 24, join us for a community brown-bag 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?

Tuesday, September 24 | Noon – 1:00PMs

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

Registration begins at 11:30AM (Come & Visit!)

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National Night Out Against Crime

On Tuesday, October 1, head out for the National Night Out Against Crime event from 5:00-9:00pm at the Kiest Park WPA Stone Pavilion!

National Night Out

Councilmen Dwaine Caraway (D4) and Scott Griggs (D1) are joining forces to provide a Community-wide event for area residen

ts. Many local neighborhood associations within District 4 and District 1 will be participating.

The councilmen are providing the BBQ meats and asking participating neighbors/Neighborhood Associations to bring sufficient side dishes and desserts (disposable containers and serving utensil are strongly recommended).
Bring your family and neighbors and your chairs for a lot of fun and a chance to meet new neighbors!Lots of bands, kid’s activities including bounce house, safety information, DPD and Dallas Fire Rescue, ballet folklorico, and great FOOD!

Worship in the Cliff | Next Sunday, Sept 29

For more details, click here!  (https://www.facebook.com/events/146351665575701/?ref=br_tf )

09.29.13 - Worship in the Cliff Flier

 

 

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)