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Halloween: The Perfect Neighboring Holiday!

I love Halloween!  My mind fills with memories of wandering East Kessler – the annual visit with Mrs. Fry, Marty demanding a “trick” before the “treat.”  Dressing up, staying up late, and candy – what could be better!

For most of the last decade, Laura and I have thrown a big Halloween party for our friends and family.  As the invite list has grown, our 1920’s Craftsman has reached its limit.  Thank goodness the party intentionally spills into the streets.

Halloween and neighboring go hand and hand.  For what other time of the year is it expected to go from house to house, engaging and providing hospitality among neighbors.  Even if you don’t go out, your street comes to you!

Therefore, with a week to go, I encourage you to consider how you can make this Halloween an intentional practice in neighboring.  With a little effort, you connect with some new folks, celebrate good weather and good times, and create something of lasting value in your neighborhood.

“Trick or Treat | Hit the Street | Give your Neighbors a Chance to Meet!”   🙂 

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12 Simple Ways to be on Mission this Halloween

Originally posted by Jeff Vanderstelt on the Verge Network

This coming Halloween offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity.

If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.

BE HOSPITABLE: Don’t just give out candy

1. Give out the best Candy – Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.

2. Think of the Parents – Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.

3. Be Present – Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.

4. Be Encouraging – Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.

5. Party – If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick or treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids the loot).

6. Learn the Stories – If you are out Trick or Treating with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. This is how I first got to know Clay (while Jayne was hanging with Kristi and the other moms). I learned his story while we were with the kids and Jayne got to know hers. This led to both of them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.

GO TO THEIR PLACE: Join what is happening elsewhere

7. Attend the Party – If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.

8. Join the Community – If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc. We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.

9. Head to the “Watering Holes” – If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.

BE PRAYERFUL: Ask for the Spirit to led, guide and work

10. Pay Attention – Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.

11. Stay Dependent – Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care and serve those around you.

12. Open Doors – Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations.

About the Author: Jeff Vanderstelt is one of the founding leaders of Soma Tacoma, a multi-expression, church-planting church. He serves at Soma Tacoma as an Elder, Missional Community Leader and Teacher, and oversees Leadership Development and Vision. He is also the Apostolic Movement and Visionary Leader of Soma, a family of churches spread throughout North America. Jeff is married to Jayne and together they love and shepherd their three children in gospel, life, and mission.  Follow on Twitter

Check out these other posts from the Verge Network connecting Halloween and mission:

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!)

God’s Design for Your Neighborhood

[A post by Catherine Peele, BODY’s new Director of Mobilization]

What is God’s design for your neighborhood?  If we are called to neighbor, what are we aiming for?  What should our communities look like?  Ultimately, the question is, “What is God’s design for our neighborhoods?”

One strong clue is found in Isaiah 65.17-25:

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.

This city isn’t just experiencing the absence of things like isolation, material need, sickness, and injustice.  It’s a place where people live a vibrant and secure life. A place where they can Connect, Celebrate, and Create.

Connect – In a neighborhood functioning according to God’s design, people are closely connected both with one another, and with God.  The relationships among people is a source of joy (v. 19), and their relationship with God is also close as evidenced by free and open communication (v. 24).

Celebrate – Healthy neighborhoods celebrate residents’ skills, passions, and stories.  Understanding the unique gifts and background each person brings to the table allows neighbors to imagine ways their neighborhood can change for the better.

Create – Finally, the natural outflow of celebrating a community’s assets is the creation of good things within the neighborhood for the benefit of its people (v. 21).  Whether it’s something as informal as helping a neighbor with a small task, or as organized as starting a neighborhood club, people will use their skills and talents to address the needs of the community.

Neighborhoods thrive when they function according to God’s design to connect, celebrate, and create.  Next time, we’ll tackle the question of what would really happen if we took the first steps to connect with our neighbors.

Read “A Call to Neighboring” and check out practical neighboring resources here.

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