Good Neighbours Week 4
Hello, and welcome to the final week in our series on Good Neighbours. Previously, we’ve thought about how to get to know our neighbours better, how to take positive steps to build relationships with the aim of becoming friends with those who live around us. This is all so that we can carry out Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves. Remember we don’t love our neighbours so that we can make them Christians. We love our neighbours because we are Christians. As we create deeper friendships with our neighbours, we will naturally have opportunities to share the most important things in life with them. In this final video, I want to draw out two other quick points that the authors make in the remaining chapters of the book. These are both about the challenges that we face when we try to be good neighbours. The first one is about the importance of setting boundaries. The reality is, when we make real relationships with our neighbours, we must be prepared to have needy and messed up people in our lives. Whilst this is a very positive thing to do, it is also important to realise we are not responsible for every aspect of these people’s lives. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to draw appropriate boundaries. The second one is the importance of focussing. In Luke 10, we read about Jesus sending his disciples out to spread his message of good news. Jesus tells the disciples to look for a man of peace. He means that the disciples should look for someone who responds positively to the message and welcomes them into his home. This is a good idea to take on board when we look to build relationships with our neighbours. We don’t have unlimited time for our neighbours, and our neighbours don’t have unlimited time for us. So it is better to focus on a few quality relationships, rather than a lot of superficial ones. The best way to do this is to ask ourselves: who are the men or women of peace on our street? Who are the people who we naturally connect with or who seem the most friendly to us? It may very well be the case that these are the best people to connect with. We have now come to the end of the series. I hope you have enjoyed it and found it provocative. Thank you for joining in. I hope it has encouraged you greatly in being a good neighbour to those who live around you. Please use the discussions questions below to help you think about the issues that have been raised this week, and to think about the series as a whole, and how it has benefitted you. Questions for Reflection 1. Have you ever needed to set a boundary with your neighbour or had a messy situation that you had to deal with? 2. If someone has a copy of the book to hand, read the example that are given on pages 137-142. What are your reflections on these examples? Have you faced similar situations when you have had to make a tough decision in order to show love to someone? 3. Who are the men or women of peace in your street or on your road? Are there neighbours on your road who have been unfriendly or who have caused problems for you? How have you dealt with these situations? Activity to Finish If you have brought the street map from the first week, take it out and update it. If you haven’t brought it, have a think about the progress that you have made in being a good neighbour since the first week. Discuss together the progress you have made, and the things that you have found encouraging or challenging about this series. Are there any stories that you would like to share? Finally, as a whole or in smaller groups, pray for the names that you have written down on your street map and for other neighbours for whom you would like to pray. You might want to pray for one another, that God would help you to love your neighbours. Or you might want to pray about other things that have come up as a result of this series.
Good Neighbours Week 3
Moving Down The Line, based on chapters 5 and 6 Hello and welcome to week three of ‘Good Neighbours’. This week we’ll be looking at what it means to take the first steps towards having genuine relationships with our neighbours. The authors pose the question, how do we go from just knowing our neighbours to having a deeper relationship with them? How do we move from being acquaintances to friends? You might remember filling out the street map a couple of weeks ago, and it is now perhaps pinned somewhere in your house, or on your fridge. That simple exercise may have provoked and helped you to meet and greet some of your neighbours for the first time. This is the first step to developing a genuine and authentic friendship. The purpose of this session is to start thinking about how we build on these positive first steps. How, in other words, do we go from being strangers to acquaintances to friends? You can think about this together in your group discussions after the video is finished, but here are a few suggestions the authors give to get us started. First, you might want think about holding a street party. There are many ways we can gather people in our homes and we will all have different preferences. You might, for example, take advantage of a time of year such as a summer bank holiday, and invite people round for drinks or a BBQ. You might not need an excuse and decide to invite your neighbours to drinks at your house just because you would like to get to know them better. I want to encourage you to think creatively! Baking or cooking might be another good way to make friends with your neighbours. Sharing food you have cooked with your neighbours could be a great way to connect with them. Playing sports is another area where you might be able to build friendships with neighbours: playing golf; joining a local running club; playing squash. There are all sorts of things you could do. Watching sports or other shows on TV might be a good thing to invite your neighbours to do with you. As we’re making this series, the football world cup is showing on millions of TV screens around the nation. Your next door neighbours are very likely watching the England games, for example (unless they’ve been knocked out by this point). It’s a great opportunity to invite them over. These are just some of the things we could do, but don’t let these stop you from being creative and coming up with your own ideas. This is all about helping us to These ideas are given to help us to go from just being on first name terms with our neighbours to being friends and having deeper relationships. Let me encourage you to use the discussion questions and activities in this week’s blog to help you think about how you personally can try and build deeper friendships and become good neighbours. Starter Question: What is the most enjoyable or remarkable event that you have ever been to that has been put on by a neighbour or a local resident? Questions for Reflection 1. Is there anything that you do at the moment or have done in the recent past to connect with neighbours socially? 2. What are the activities you most enjoy doing, and how might they become tools for building relationships with your neighbours? Action Steps 1. Look at your street map and be purposeful this week in doing one small thing that moves you down the line from stranger to acquaintance to friendship. Feed back to the group next week. 2. Partner with someone in the group and begin to plan a party, bbq or some other activity to which you might be able to invite your neighbours.
Good Neighbours Week 2
Making Time and Facing Fear, based on chapters 3 and 4 Hello, and welcome to the second in our series ‘Good Neighbours’. This week we’re going to be considering two of the main things that stop us from developing good relationships with our neighbours: Not having enough time and The fear factor. In the book, ‘The Art of Neighboring’, we are encouraged to focus on prioritising relationships. The great commandment tells us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and if we are going to do that we actually have to have a relationship with the people who live around us if we are to have any chance of loving them well and being good neighbours. To help us, the authors encourage us to think about the three points, which we are going to discuss in our groups in a moment. The first is 1. Make the main thing the main thing We need to think about the way that we spend our time and the activities that we prioritise. Make a mental list of the way you spend your time, and consider if the things that you currently prioritise could be rearranged. 2. Eliminate time stealers We are encouraged to practice the art of elimination – which sounds like something from the film The Godfather! Actually when we think about the way we spend our time we realise there are things we do which have much less value when compared to the more important things in life, like building good relationships with our neighbours. Of course the point is we need to spend more of our time doing the more important things! 3. Be interruptible Develop a mind-set which says it’s okay to have space in your day and in your diary. In places like Winchester, and in churches like ours, it is all too easy to be so busy that there is little space for any spontaneity or interruptions. If we are going to make good relationships with our neighbours, we are going to have to be flexible. What do I do if my neighbour Dave is outside cleaning his car when I come home tired after church on a Sunday? Do I take that short walk across the drive? Putting these three steps into practice will help us become better neighbours. Chapter 4 of the book encourages us to think about the fears we experience when we start thinking about how we can develop relationships with our neighbours. The following questions and activities will help us to be realistic about our fears and encourage us to take steps to overcome them. Please spend some time considering the questions and working through the activities in this week’s blog in your community group. Don’t feel the need to use them all. Simply choose the two or three questions that may be helpful to you. Finally have a great time! My prayer is we all bear much fruit as we seek to become good neighbours. Questions: Starter Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how busy is life for you at the moment? Why is this? Reflection Questions: 1. Do you currently live at a pace that allows you to be present in your neighbourhood in a meaningful way? 2. What are the potential time stealers in your life? Are there ways that you can save time by doing something about these? (Can link to Action Step 1) 3. Are there people on your street who you find intimidating? Why is that and is there anything you can do in order to overcome your fear of that person or those people? 4. Discuss or think about some practical ways that you can overcome your fears of interacting with neighbours you don’t know. Is there any way that your Community Group can help you to get to know your neighbours? Action Steps 1. Look at your calendar/diary over the past week. Write down the ways that you spent your time. Reflect on how well you used your time and whether what you did lines up with what you think is important. 2. Make an effort to go and meet one of your neighbours who you know nothing about, or haven’t met yet. This could just be by introducing yourself to a neighbour as you pass by, or it could be something more in depth. If successful, report back to the group next week. This might seem like a strange thing to do, but it might be helpful in overcoming the fear factor and taking a first step.
Good Neighbours Week 1
An exercise to begin with… This is an opportunity to take stock of our relationships with our neighbours, and it may very well be a painful exercise. Below is a link to a house map, please make sure everyone in your community group has a copy. The middle house on the chart is yours. It doesn’t matter if your road or area resembles this map; imagine that the boxes around your house represent the houses that are closest to you in distance. Then in the middle of the chart, simply write your home address or house name or number. In the other boxes, fill in the three subpoints within each box – a,b, and c – as follows; a) Write the names of the people who live in the house represented by the box. If you can give the first and last names, that’s great. If it’s only first names, that’s fine too. b) Write down some relevant information about each person, some data or facts about him or her that you couldn’t see just by standing in your drive, things you might know if you’ve spoken to the person once or twice. Things that you can observe from your windows don’t count, like colours of cars, or flowers outside their house. We mean information you learn from speaking to your neighbour, such as where he or she grew up, what his or her hobbies are, and son. c) Write down some in-depth information you would know after connecting with people. This might include their career plans or dreams of starting a family or anything to do with the purpose of their lives. What motivates them to do what they do? What would they say about God? What do they most fear? What are their spiritual beliefs and practices? Write down anything meaningful you’ve learned through interacting with them. Reflection/Discussion Questions 1. How much of your map were you able to fill out? Did you have any thoughts or realisations as you did this exercise? 2. Describe the relationships that you currently have with your neighbours. Do you have any neighbours that you would like to get to know better? Action Steps 1. Keep your house map and place it somewhere appropriate in your home where you will often see it. Use it as an aid to help you to pray for your area. 2. Try and learn the name of at least one of your unknown neighbours this week, and fill in one of the squares on the map. Can I encourage you to finish your meeting by praying for one another as this series starts. Click here to download the House Map
Welcome to ‘Good Neighbours’
This week we are launching a four week series in our Community Groups called “Good Neighbours”, which will run through June and July. The aim is to encourage us all to be the best neighbours we can be, simply because God loves our neighbours as much as he loves us. The series is inspired by an American book, ‘The Art of Neighbouring’. You don’t need to have read the book in order to join in, but we have purchased copies of the books to give to Community Group leaders. Over the next four weeks we will be producing a weekly blog for the series on the church web-site. The blog will contain a short video, questions for discussion, and activities to help us put what we’re talking about into practice. Each week, Community Groups are being encouraged to watch the video together, and then use the questions and activities to help provoke discussion and prayer. This summer gives us a great opportunity to get to know our neighbours better. The aim is that, through our weekly blog, we’ll all be encouraged to become more concerned about those who live around us as well as challenged and spurred on to take more opportunities to become good neighbours. A reminder for Community Group Leaders: 1) In preparation for this Community Group series, if you haven’t got a copy already, please could you go to the front desk this morning and claim your free copy of ‘The Art of Neighbouring’? It will be up to you how much you read. It is only short and very simple, so please try and become familiar with some of it. 2) Make sure you or someone in your group arranges to have a device (iPad, pc or laptop) on which to watch the video etc. each week. You could make a short rota, to help you. You will need to remember to have the meeting somewhere where you have Wi-Fi access.