“Getting to Know Your Neighborhood” – Helps from Gary Nelson (Round I)

October 22, 2010

In his book Borderland Churches, Dr. Gary Nelson offers some great practical helps for how people desiring to live on mission can go about getting to know their neighborhoods through face-to-face interaction and social networking.  Here’s round I:

Nothing replaces face-to-face interaction and social networking.  The most helpful information and understanding will always come from these encounters, especially if you enter into the process with adventure and hopefulness.  Along with relationship building, a number of activities may facilitate observations and analysis.  These activities are based on a key principle: People themselves give the most helpful information, so why not engage them in good conversation?

Attend special community activities:

  • Youth events, ball game, school drama, etc.
  • Neighborhood celebrations, political events, garage sales, bazaars
  • Community organization meetings for action

Establish the physical boundaries:

  • The concept of the church scattered and the church gathered enables a congregation to focus and strategize on specific areas of relationships and natural networks.
  • Church gathered is the neighborhood and context in which a particular church is situated.  It is litereally the place where God has placed your building and for which you have a responsibility.  It is a unique placement.
  • Church scattered is the neighborhoods and networks of relationship that take place when the congregation is spread out throughout the area.  It includes workplaces, residential communities, social networks, and even global connections.

Investigate the common name of your neighborhood:

  • What do people call this neighborhood?  How did it come by this name and is it different than the official name given by the municipality?  What does it tell you about this community?
  • How do other people who live outside of the community perceive this neighborhood?  Is that perception fair and accurate?


(quote reproduced from Gary Nelson’s book Borderland Churches pages 150-151,  by permission.)


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