by Mary Frances, FaithX Senior Consultant
Creating Neighborhood Community
The post is part of our “Keeping Congregations Connected in the Face of COVID-19” blog series.
What opportunities for connection, joy, support, love, collaboration, and ministry in your neighborhood are just waiting to be noticed, named, and nurtured?
This strange time we are living in seems to be a time of dichotomy. Social distance but stay connected. Protect yourself for the sake of others. Find unity in the diaspora. Celebrate life while we sadly count the deaths. Yet the church was created for a time such as this. Today the most pressing question in the church is how do we stay connected while we are all at least 6 feet apart? How do we go about creating neighborhood community from behind our computer screens?
I think we find the answer in shifting from our well-worn model of large group gatherings to something smaller and closer to home: house churches, neighborhood groups, small groups, or fractals. Call them what you will, but small groups of people gathering around the gospel are the very foundation of the church. We find examples of them in the New Testament and more recently in the growing Christian church in China as well as the house church movement all around the world. In 1950 the Christian church in China was close to 4 million people. Today the church in China boasts over 67 million people. And yet the church is still often underground, persecuted and unable to meet in groups of more than 10 people. Ten people. That number sounds so familiar. It’s the number many states are using when they talk about lifting restrictions and allowing small groups to gather again with social distancing. More dichotomies…gather at a distance!
What would neighborhood groups look like? People from your church formed into small groups by geographic area. These groups could do many things together such as share a meal, Bible study and life reflection, spiritual formation for all ages, mow someone’s grass or shovel snow, pick up groceries or take someone to the doctor, gather around a table for worship and holy communion. Neighborhood groups may meet in person as they are able, but they could also meet online. Your church might have an entire network of groups that come together as a whole occasionally – maybe weekly, monthly, quarterly, or for high holy days.
The road map to creating neighborhood groups is yours to create. What will work for the people in your church? AND, perhaps more importantly, what will work for the people in your neighborhood? Because we want to make sure that the groups created have room for us to invite our neighborhoods so that a group of 5 can become a group of 10. This is the perfect opportunity to invite a neighbor to church…at your house!
Want to talk through what creating neighborhood community could look like in your community? We have trained coaches who can help you create a plan, set goals and map out what is necessary to accomplish them, overcome obstacles, and celebrate your successes with you.
Want to help your congregation more effectively engage the neighborhoods it serves?
Those who engage a full Neighborhood Missional Assessment or other consultative program from FaithX will receive a complete NMIR in interactive (dynamic HTML) format.
Important Note: A Neighborhood Missional Intelligence Report can also be a useful tool for identifying the prevalence of at risk groups within your membership and ministry areas, and a Neighborhood Missional Assessment can help you identify the neighborhoods where they are most prevalent.
We have reduced the cost of NMIRs and NMAs by 10% for the duration of the COVID19 pandemic.
Want to help your judicatory identify emerging missional opportunities and challenges within its boundaries?
Click here to schedule a demo/discussion
of MapDash for Faith Communities
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Important Note: In the days ahead Datastory will be adding COVID-related data to MapDash to all current and future subscribers (including incidence of COVID-19, hospital locations and capacity, Twitter feeds, location of doctors).
FaithX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Ken’s faith-based consulting practice at FaithX is carried out under an extension of ministry from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.