There’s a Nagging Disconnect Between Neighborhood and Church

I think the top question among ‘missional’ churches is “how do I lead my church to be present in the neighborhood?” Yeah we know this is the goal. We know all the theological reasons why this is the way it should be. Now what?

The knee jerk response to to start doing projects of justice and mercy in the neighborhood. This is good. But then there are the issues of burnout. And why do none of the people we are ministering to and with ever become part of our church? There’s a nagging disconnect between ministry in the community and what we do on Sunday and who we are as the people of God.

At this year’s Missional Learning Commons we hope to address these concerns. We will have every day practicioners presenting (check out schedule) and then time for questions and dialogue. We hope to have good conversations and diaslogue and share the highs and lows of navigating life in mission as a church. Care to join us? INDICATE YOU ARE COMING HERE ON FB PAGE.

And you can register HERE. (only 10 bucks). Hope to see you all in October 25!!

1150352_10151899965094225_1337403867_nAlso!!! I’ll be in Hamilton Ontario for the Act Like Men? Conference.  I’m really looking forward to being in my old hometown. Join me if you can make it!!

And last, but not least, my bro and revolutionary friend Mark Van Steenwyk will be in Elgin Church of the Brethren. He’ll challenge you to rethink how you live in Christ’s Lordship. Check it out. Or just make a copy of this poster and frame it. It’s that good.

VanSteenwyk Poster

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7 comments on “There’s a Nagging Disconnect Between Neighborhood and Church
  1. David, my initial reaction to the questions of the “missional” churches: “How do I lead my church to be present in the neighborhood?”

    1. How about just being good neighbors, and encouraging people in their daily lives to know and relate to their neighbors?
    2. Who cares if other people never become part of your church? Jesus didn’t say “Love your neighbor so that he joins your group.”
    3. Reclaim the doctrine of vocation and believe that God is working through you in your ordinary relationships, the work you do, the life you live. Give up the silly idea of having to quantify your “impact” and trust God to work.

  2. David Fitch says:

    Mike,
    I think your reaction “Who cares if other people become part of your church?” is intially the right one. I don’t think we should be motivated to have relationships in order to get people to “come” to our church. Amen!
    But, I believe we should be motivated to invite people into the Kingdom, I believe we should be conduits for the Spirit’s work in both our lives and others together… whereby God can bring many more into His Kingdom …. As we inhabit neighborhoods … we should see ‘Satan fall like lightning” This should inevitably lead to more worshipers..etc… If the Kingdom is indeed breaking in among us in the neighborhoods… we should see the church (and by that I do not mean only or even primarily worship services)grow.
    What am I missing here? eh?

    • I don’t deny that part of loving our neighbors is sharing our faith and inviting them to share it — when appropriate. But my fear is that — especially in our pragmatic and programmatic American minds — “missional” is (consciously or subconsciously) another “method” in a program where the goal is church growth. Paul simply said the goal is love (1Tim 1:5), and Micah’s famous words about what God requires say nothing about an end game beyond doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. In my view, “impact” has become one of the great idols of the church and quantifying that impact the means of our false worship. Why do we find it so hard to simply live as ordinary human beings among our neighbors and leave “the results” to God?

      • David Fitch says:

        Mike,
        I think we agree … but I’m afraid I’ve seen often the overreaction here as well… the timidity to proclaim good news to the suffering, and lost …
        Blessings!

  3. Maybe the real question is: Is there a difference between just being a good neighbor and living the Kingdom life? I see people begin good to their neighbors whose lives do not seem to reflect an understanding of Jesus as Savior or even God’s existence. The school system now focuses on having student serve their communities and teaching the value of being caring and compassionate. So what is the difference between Christians doing justly and loving mercy and anyone else doing the same? If it doesn’t lead beyond making one’s life better for the now, I think we miss part of God’s desire for our lives. I don’t live the missional (read Kingdom) life to put butts in the seats on Sunday. But I live this life as a result of what God has done in my life through Christ, and gives opportunity to love other people into the Kingdom of God. Just what I have been thinking.

  4. Dave says:

    Hi David,
    I bumped into your site while looking around for thoughts on developing social capital. I found your thoughts and you readers thoughts on the disconnect between Neighbourhood and Church very interesting. In particular the term “Kingdom”. I guess I’m assuming this means Kingdom of God.
    I think I feel the disconnect may be effected by the way we structure ourselves (the church that is). It could read as though the Kingdom of God is only or mostly expressed though a denominational church service.

    Just a thought at the moment.

    Thanks for the work you’re doing.

    Dave (in Australia)

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David Fitch
Betty R. Lindner Professor of Theology
Northern Seminary
DMin in Missional Leadership
Prodigal Christianity
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