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  • Writer's picturedave dyrud

Discovering the soul of our Neighborhood

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

Neighborhoods are as diverse as the people who live in them. From high rise apartments to tenement buildings, from new suburban neighborhoods to 70 year old bungalow houses, each community has a look and personality of it’s own.

…and yet, God is at work in each of them!

Why does it matter that followers of Jesus are being equipped to live as God’s Faithful Presence in every neighborhood?

This past month, just 2 blocks away from our house, 3 men, husbands and fathers, in a lonely moment of despair, ended their lives.

What was happening in their lives that would leave so little hope that death seemed like the only option?

That week was not unlike the normal spring week before it...there were meetings in coffee shops, family dinners, afternoons spent shoveling snow...but 2 blocks over, 3 men without a place to turn for hope, each ended their lives...a tragedy almost unnoticed by our neighborhood. Just 2 blocks separated our house from theirs, and yet, we had never met.

Almost as sad as their death, is the reality that so few living close by, actually new the story of their lives, the pain that would lead them to take such desperate measures. Neighbors talked in hushed whispers, wondering what happened?

They were names on the evening news, addresses down the street, 3 tragic episodes…back to back to back events that caused our community to pause, gasp a bit, but then quickly go back to our daily routines. 3 lives unnoticed, stories never to be fully written.

As the families inside 3 homes were shattered, the neighborhood barely noticed...our lives more impacted by the 6” of snow we shoveled from our driveways than by the loss of 3 members of our community.

Does neighborhood ministry matter, I ask again? You bet it does!

In the book “Gifts from the heart,” Cari Gustav Jung says that “loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”

Loneliness is not the absence of people, but the feeling of being unnoticed, unknown or unvalued!

But what if every person in every neighborhood lived next to someone who was living as God’s Faithful Presence, someone who was loving and caring for them, and when the time was right, was prepared to share the hope that only comes from knowing Jesus and living our lives for Him?

Would that make a difference?

The impact of neighborhood disciple making ministries cannot be undersold!

A few have said to me this year that disciple making ministry in the U.S. will never be as important as reaching lost people in the impoverished parts of the world where Jesus is not yet known. Maybe you’ve thought that as well?

But let me cast a different vision for a moment. Because we live in America we live in one of the wealthiest economies of the world. We still call ourselves a Christian nation, and yet the average Christian in or country invests more than 10x as much in retirement accounts as they invest in the things of God’s Kingdom.

But what if Christians in every neighborhood around our country were being discipled to be passionate followers of Jesus? What if each of these people began living the teachings of Jesus in real and practical ways? What if forgiving enemies wasn’t a sermon on Sunday but the culture of each neighborhood we lived in? What if the followers of Jesus in every neighborhood loved as Jesus loved? What if generosity wasn’t something we hoped others practiced, but each follower of Jesus gave generously to any need God brought to their attention?

If Followers of Jesus in America, with our wealth, lived this way it would have s huge global impact! A Christian economist wrote about 15 years ago that if the evangelical church in North America, U.S. and Canada, just gave a 10% tithe to God, there would be enough money to end poverty world wide! More Christians right here in our country understanding what it means to live as residents of God’s Kingdom will change the world.

What is so powerful about a neighborhood disciple making ministry is that it’s the cheapest and quickest way to do ministry because we simply live a life faithful to Jesus right where we already are! There’s no travel, no cultural training needed, no seminary degree required. All we need is some fundamental training in learning to live as a disciple of Jesus in the context of our community. Imagine the ripple effect Neighborhood disciple making can have world wide as more and more people here lived passionate lives for the things Jesus lived for!

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