Neighborhood Groups News Letter by MarvinGolden


									                    Neighborhood Groups News Letter
                                “Reaching in to Reach Out”
                                   May 2007, Volume 1

          The hope of our neighborhood groups is to experience biblical community together
with people who are living around you. As you and your Christian neighbors live out the love
of Christ, those who don’t know Christ will notice how you love one another. You become a
visual picture of Christ’s love for your neighbors. When it comes to reaching your lost friends,
the focus is biblical community and God will take care of the rest. The hard part is re-ordering
our lives to experience real community.

But a problem rises when we try to live out biblical community. We just can’t add it to our
already busy schedule. It will take some re-ordering of our values, habits and choices. The
reason we have to redo our lives is because many times, unknowingly, we have adopted the
way of our American culture, which keeps us from experiencing real community.

Randy Frazee in his book “The Connecting Church” identifies three cultural characteristics we
have to conquer in our American lifestyle. The three problems are: isolationism, individualism
and consumerism. Each “Ism” keeps us from experiencing the kind of biblical community God
intended us to live before a dying world.

I want to define one of the “Isms”, explain how it keeps us from experiencing biblical
community and gives some practical suggestions for overcoming the “Ism” in your life so you
can experience biblical community. In this letter, we will look at:


            “Americans are among the loneliest people in the world,” concludes George
Gallup Jr. Most of the time, our loneliness is not intentional, but the results of our very busy
schedule from all the demands we have on our lives.

       Our schedules are filled each day throughout the whole week with responsibilities or
       activities. There is no margin for deep relationships.

       We prioritize responsibilities or activities over what is really important to our lives.

       When we do have time for others, their lives are too busy to get together.

       We have too many worlds of activity to manage.
Gallup continues to say, “We are physically detached from each other. We change places of
residence frequently. One survey revealed that seven out of ten do not know their neighbors.
As many as one-third of Americans admit to frequent periods of loneliness, which is a key
factor in the high suicide rate among the elderly.”

             Yale University professor Wayne Meeks made a point about the early church
when he wrote, “To be baptized into Jesus Christ signaled for Pauline converts an
extraordinary thoroughgoing re-socialization, in which the sect was intended to become
virtually the primary group for it’s members, supplanting all other loyalties.” Lyle Schaller, a
leading church consultant, stated, “The biggest challenge for the church at the opening of the
twenty-first century is to develop a solution to the discontinuity and fragmentation of the
American lifestyle.”

Frazee concludes, “…Community is not a luxury but a necessity for life.” The church needs to
help followers of Jesus Christ to simplify their lives, which may mean helping people make
choices to prioritize true community in their lives.

                                Where do you start?

Simplify Your Worlds:                One of the first steps in simplifying one’s life is to pull
many of our worlds together. Instead of having your neighbors, and one group you share your
spiritual journey with and one group you seek to reach for Christ, you can pull them all
together in one group. Doing life with believers, in your neighborhood showing the love of
Christ to those who don’t know Christ as they observe God-honoring relationships without
having to go to church with you. In doing so, you have just pulled three worlds into one and
have become more effective and meaningful doing all three.

Look Out as You Look In:                         The tendency as we gather as believers in
neighborhoods is to become a holy huddle. We get together to study the Bible, pray,
fellowship and other very good Christian practices. The group becomes a safe place for us to
come. But the gathering can also become one of the most effective means to share the love
of Christ without really speaking a direct word. Our love for each other becomes our soapbox.
It’s kind of like what Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel, and if you have to, use

                (All quotes are from Randy Frazee’s book “The Connecting Church.”)

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