Mission to the Burbs

I often feel passionate about things – carpentry, Scooters , my wife! But one thing that is always there in the back (mostly the front) of my mind is the fact that I spend a lot of time in and around my house…and so it would seem do my neighbours, not my house, but theirs. The dream of a “Friends” or “Neighbours” or “Home and Away” type community dwells within so many of us, yet the reality is far from the dream. I create all kinds of excuses to ‘pop in’ to their homes for no other reason other than the fact that they are…there, I hear them, wave to them, so why shouldn’t I eat and meet and hang with them too? Why should I use my automatic roller door as a cover for my life? Why not invite them all over for a party?
This requires a commitment of time and space, precious gems that few seem to have left anymore, but maybe, maybe there is some hope.
I was encouraged and challenged by some of the thoughts in this article from Leadership Blog, as well as the blog mentioned within it about mission to suburbia called Death by Suburb.
Thanks for the tip off Hamo.

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10 thoughts on “Mission to the Burbs

  1. Very interesting thoughts Scott. I too enjoyed reading the posts you linked to. But here is my question… one I have been asking myself as I reflect on the difficulties of living out the “Christian witness ideal”.

    Do I desire to build relationships with my neighbours because it is me who wants to feel “normal and acceptable” as a Christian living in the world… or am I really and genuinely concerned about the eternal welfare of those people who live around me?

    If it is the first, then perhaps I am operating out of selfish desire… not really understanding what Jesus taught about the cost that needs to be paid in order to be counted as a disciple.

    If it is the second, then why do I feel the need to first be “acceptable” to my neighbours before I can share the Good News with them?

    This is not a critical statement about friendship evangelism. I am questioning my own motives for wanting to “connect” with people. I mean, to be honest… what does the world have to offer that I could possibly want? (in comparison to what I have in Jesus Christ). The flip side is this… what does Christianity have to offer the world, that it can’t get anywhere else?

    In my mind, the answer to this forms the motive for wanting to tell people about Jesus.

  2. Yep, true regarding wanting to be something ‘for’ my neigbours. I think that often we ‘prentend to be the person we dream of being, like all Godly and the like, having all the right answers and responses when in fact all Jesus wants us to be is ourselves, real doubts and all. I think when we are not so hung up about sharing Jesus, so much as just being him, then we might start really seeing Kingdom signs around us.

  3. True… but I can’t help but think we are going about it the wrong way. If being “like” Jesus is enough, why don’t we see more people running to the Saviour?

  4. I’m not too sure we do a good job of it…being, acting, thinking like Him. So instead of finding out just how he would respond in situations and modeling this behaviour, we revert back to what is easier in some ways, that is proclimation. An intelectual proposition to people about a knowledge based faith. We say “do you believe that Jesus is the …” What we mean is do you “know” do you “understand” and “have you learnt”. We missed the point. The Hebrew concept of belief and understanding came “post” action, as in it was not until behaviour was wittnessed that people “saw” belief.
    We just think if someone can put their hand up in a meeting, or say “I believe” or pray some prayer out loud, then that is belief.
    Why are not more Christians stading up for the refuge crisis our nation has in sending away the homeless to a prison on an offshore Island? Why is it not Christians at the forfront of asking the question as to why we have blindly followed the US into Iraq? Why are Christians not making waves about a Prime Minister who seems to give bigger breaks to the upper socio-economic sector than the struggling poor? Why are Christians not demanding to know why we measure the success of our nation by its GDP instead of other signs of success like health, family stability, marriage stats, spirituality and the like? These things are left to non-Christians with a “Christ-like” conscience. People like Richard Eccersley, Clive Hamilton, Hugh McKay and the like…aghhh I rant, but these are issues of discipleship and evangelism etc.

  5. At the risk of sounding all “Biblical”… just how did Jesus respond to the various life situations he came across? Sure, he met the needs… he helped the poor… he healed the sick… he even hung out with “sinners”. But he also revert(ed) back to what is easier in some ways, that is proclimation.

    Surely it has to be both… how else will they hear?

  6. Yes, I guess he did proclaim, and yes I think there are time we should too, so yes, it is a both and. But I do think we have overdone one at the expense of another.

  7. Permission to be spiritual? Woops too late 🙂 I think the whole proclaimation thing should be approached as naturally as possible, ‘if possible’. Firstly, I’d hope and trust that God can use our individual personalities to build a relationship with those around us. To love, to nurture, to guide, to be ready to answer if the timing is right. Secondly, I find compelling evidence to suggest that God sometimes places us in ‘life circumstances’ which challenge us to the core and times when the Holy Spirit steps in and brings timing to a moment that only He can bring. Two guys, simply on fire for the Lord encountered this in Acts 4, when the religious people of the day did everything they could to stop them speaking about Jesus. Peter & John’s answer was cunning; “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen & heard.” I wish I was as bold as these guys. They had nothing to lose & the result was they turned the world upside down, not to mention their neighbourhood. Their boldness was central to this. I only wish I was as brave as them, maybe then God would trust me to do exploits like these guys. Why can’t we?

  8. Hey New Guy, no need to ask permission to be spiritual with great comments like that! Thanks for your input. I too look at those guys and think that I would love o be able to proclaim my faith in such bold ways.

  9. Hey great blog site Vawz.
    Seems your current focus is based on relationship and trust between neighbours, with the focus on local community. Great work, I hope it flourishes immensely.

    Matt made some great comments about his motivation for sharing with neighbours and a very honest comment at that. ‘Loving your neighbours as yourself’ is a good honesty check in that case. If you don’t love yourself, you probably wont share your faith with your neighbour, simply because your own love and respect for yourself is found wanting, and how can you redeem anyone else if you need redeeming yourself !? However, once you’ve got that in check and put that aside (in God’s hands) you then need to ask yourself, would I, can I be bothered to tell my friend/neighbour about all this? If you have dealt with self-love and feel confident to extend yourself outwardly then I figure that your friends come onto the radar bigtime.

    If you understand just how personal it was that Jesus died for “literally you”, then the need to express this and communicate this heightens incredibly. The need is based on your own experience. ie: If He (Jesus) loved me that much to lay it all down and to redeem me, then I’ve gotta tell the next guy (and quickly) so he/she can comprehend to that level as well.

    When the disciples were released to proclaim His message in Judea, Samaria and the Uttermost parts of the earth, they began in Judea (their community) and radically changed it with this revelation (just as you are doing!).

    I understand from Matt’s comments that his motivation is very solid and grounded in that he (and you) are boldly attempting to bring the message of His ‘personal and unrestrained love’ to your friends, family and neighbours around about you. My prayer is that they are radically changed by your ‘real-life’ testimonies and unhinged as a result of your unfetted love for them. Go for it lads !! Go and do exploits, just as He promised you would. It’s your time.

  10. Thanks “new guy”. I think one of my greatest challenges to community mission is that of time. For most of us the thing that resticts relationship is our business. I am aiming to work less and ‘live’ more local. This will be costly, but I am convinced it is a key.

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