There was a day…
when the local church was the physical hub of the neighborhood, a time when the church was so much more than Sunday morning, so much more than just good (organ) worship. The local church was seen as a valued asset by most neighbors, integral to the fabric of how a community was held together. It was where you’d gather to worship, connect, compete, grieve, celebrate, learn and feast.
While there’s always an exception to most every rule, those days are largely long gone. We’ll save the history lessons for another time, but as we zoom out, it becomes quite clear, quite quickly, that a disconnect exists between the local church and the neighborhood in which it is rooted.
Part of the work of placemaking is reimagining physical space, but as we’ve said LOUD and CLEAR by now, flourishing space hinges on how we inhabit it—our posture and our presence—as much as anything else. In exploring partnership with new church leaders, a few of the very first questions we ask are “Tell us about your neighbors?” and “How has your congregation looked to develop relationships with your neighbors?” or even “Do you have a sense of how your neighbors view you?”
These can be intimidating questions to ask and to answer, but they are revealing. As we ground ourselves in this work, we are, in big part, grounding ourselves in the work of neighboring—partnering with churches as they look to define and live into the Good News invitation to love their neighbor well.
This work entails high-level theology stuff (what does it mean to be missional? Is Good News more than just spiritual wellness and eternal salvation?). It is also perfectly practical and small (Can you list the names of your school board members? Do you know any of them personally?).
We’re not looking to relive the good ol’ days (these are the good ol’ days!), but we believe there is good for everyone, and for us, as we become better neighbors.