Thursday, August 23, 2007


As I was in my DMin class discussing the changing culture and even geographical landscape we began to talk about the significant population concentrations happening in downtown Boston because of the many condos going up. These are high end condos with gates and security guards and video cameras. Our prof was talking about putting together a flyer to invite these folks to their church (only a few blocks away). My suggestion was, why not help someone buy a condo in this building so that they could move in and have a neighbourhood style impact? It would allow them to have a small group meet in the building, access to the "party room" for meetings and daily contact with many residents. The prof had never considered that type of community outreach before.

I am also convinced that in our diversified but ever more segregated world it will be more and more difficult to use mailings as an effective way of communicating your message. Internet advertising may help but it is difficult to target small groups of people located in a specific neighbourhood. Personal contact is always the best way to go. So to have an impact in a "closed" community you need to become a part of that community. You need to move into the neighbourhood.

I'm not alone in my thoughts. Alan Roxburgh is now echoing the same sentiments in his blog and I've quoted a few of the more relevant paragraphs.

I have this sense that God is calling us to move into neighborhoods in cities, towns and villages to quietly form Christian life around a Rule of Life and a set of practices. The formation of a missional order, a band of people moving back into the neighborhood for the sake of the people, place and future of where they live. So I imagine that perhaps, in this simple and unpretentious way God might be wanting to give life and meaning back to the suburbs, inner cities, condo towers and gated housing projects where people are warehoused, commodified and so deeply, crushingly abandoned and alone in a culture shaped by spending and buying. I’m convinced that the only way we can discover and sustain this kind of mission-shaped life is through the formation of some kind of order.

One of the themes you will pick up from Allelon as we seek to understand the ways of forming a multi-generational network of missional leaders is the call to re-enter neighborhoods and go local. We are compelled by the imagination of the Gospels were we are told that God came and pitched its tent beside ours in Jesus. We believe there is a deep call to re-enter neighborhoods. In the manner of Luke 10: 1-12, we are sensing that in the suburbs, cities and towns we are being asked to participate in a movement that vulnerably lives in, among, beside, for and with the other in our neighborhoods. We believe that answers to the questions of what God is up to in our time and what churches need to look like can only be answered from those willing to risk leaving behind their baggage (no bag, no cloak, no extra sandals) and entering the hospitality of the other. We are also convinced that this shift in imagination and practice calls for a missional order that seeks to intentionally live out of a rule of life.

No comments: