Engaging our Neighborhood

Charles Kiser —  June 3, 2010 — 1 Comment

Storyline hosted its annual City on a Hill retreat on May 21-22. The retreat is designed to equip people who are interested in participating in God’s mission to bless and restore the world.

The focus of Friday night is, “What is God’s mission?” The focus of Saturday is “What do missional people do?”

We answer Saturday’s question, “What do missional people do?”, with five key elements. Missional people engage in five rhythms as they participate in God’s mission. They:

  1. Listen to God
  2. Engage their neighborhoods
  3. Show hospitality
  4. Work for justice
  5. Tell the story

If Storyline has a “rule of life,” it’s these five elements. These rhythms are what we center our life around as community.

I got a facebook message last weekend from Heather Amend about how the conversation about “engaging our neighborhoods” had impacted her. By engaging our neighborhoods, we mean becoming embedded in the broader community of which we are part: 1) our street; 2) our workplaces; and 3) our “third places” (social hang-outs).

The assumption is that we can no longer expect  people who are searching for connection to God to come to us. Like Jesus (cf. Luke 5:27-32), we must go to them. Further, the church should spring up ‘out there’, amongst people in our community who are searching for God – rather than extracting them from their environments and into to our “safe” church contexts.

One learning point from the conversation was the suggestion to engage the community in community – that is, not as a loner, but in conjunction with other friends on mission.

Heather’s facebook message pertained to that – and got me excited about the way Storyliners are participating in mission. I’ve felt all the same dynamics she mentions; it’s nice to have someone articulate them so well. Heather’s comments demonstrate that the best learning happens when we’re actually doing something.

Hey guys,

I figured something out, a revelation if you will.

You know how you told us to go in pairs for non-church spaces? I thought of several more reasons why that’s good. That’s because I joined a meetup group and went to my apartment’s brunch by myself this morning. The meetup group worked because Elizabeth went with me. The apartment brunch was 10 shades of awkward.

– Whenever I go somewhere by myself, I am quite certain I project a “Help! I don’t know anyone” vibe.

– If I’m flying solo and I invite someone to a Storyline event or to hang out, it’s like, “Come hang out with ME.” It’s more pressure. Who wants to hang out one on one with someone they just met?

– When you invite someone to an event and you’re in a pair, it’s like, “Hang out with US.” Immediately it’s like being invited into a crowd, which is less weird than being invited to hang out one on one.

– The person you’re inviting already knows TWO people at the place you’re inviting them to.

– It shows them that you have friends and you’re not a loser.

– It kind of depends on who you’re approaching. When I went to interview the homeless at Solomon’s Porch, flying solo wasn’t a big deal at all. Those people are so much more approachable. But Uptown people?

Just some observations. Anyway, I firmly back you guys’ idea that you should go in pairs.

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

One response to Engaging our Neighborhood


    Good stuff. Thanks.

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