By Fay Puddicombe
Next Door As It Is In Heaven is written by church strategists Lance Ford and Brad Brisco. They are part of the leadership team of Forge America Mission Training Network (ED: Southern brother of Forge Canada à la CBWC Pastor Cam Roxburgh). While their observations and ideas are geared for the US church culture, much of what they say is relevant for the Canadian scene as well.
The first half of the book identifies the things that have influenced the changes in our neighbourhoods. I remember well what my neighbourhood was like growing up in Saskatoon. Neighbours borrowed tools, chatted daily over the fence while hanging out laundry on Mondays, walked together to the nearest corner store.
The neighbourhood I live in now is very different.
Our “hoods” have become the place we retreat to when we want to get away from others. We enjoy our sheltered life in our well fenced back yards. When we head out we climb into our cars in the garage and might wave to a neighbour as we drive by. Would you be able to pick out your neighbour in a police lineup?
This book identifies things that influenced the change: city planning that separates retail and residential, consumerism, the dependence upon cars, our over-scheduled lives, and the impact of television.
Some themes in the book:
* Incarnation should inform our activity
* Biblical examples of God using people where they are
* Immerse, consider others, pray
* Be concerned and commit to the welfare of the city
Some of the solutions presented:
* Learn their names
* Pray for them
* Watch for opportunities to cross paths and communicate
* “Behold” (intensely consider) your neighbours
* Create margin in your life so you can grasp opportunities when they come
* Rethink the use of your home
* Align with activities already happening—look at things you are already doing and invite others to join you (for example, meals)
“We all have good intentions but it does not just happen, we must make it happen.”
The authors list the interactions Jesus had with people, noting that they were most often around food. How can we connect with our neighbours around food? Having a front yard fire pit is one suggestion offered. Invite neighbours to join you around the fire. The authors suggest your most powerful evangelistic tool is your dining room table. They say, “Christians should be the most partyingest people on the street.”
The authors deal with some of our reasons/excuses why we think we can’t interact with people—don’t like their lifestyle, had an argument with him once, et cetera. Again they point us back to Jesus and the people He met with. They weren’t all upstanding “nice” people! We are reminded that everyone is made in the image of God.
The book is easy to read and has challenged me. I’ve given you a taste of it, but there is more; I recommend you read it. It might get you thinking how you too could “live out God’s Kingdom in your neighbourhood.”
Want to make your next move from “good intentions” to “making it happen”? Join us for Forge Canada’s Into The Neighbourhood conferences happening later this month in Edmonton and Vancouver. CBWC Church Planting is sponsoring some seats at each location, so talk to Shannon ASAP!
A small teaser: