Farming Your Neighborhood

Kelly and I moved into our neighborhood just over two years ago.  It was a brand new community of about 80 homes.  We were the first to build and the first ones to move in.  Research shows that people are more prone to make a decision for Jesus Christ while they are in life transition (new baby, new home, death of a family member, crisis, etc…).  So, the results of what has happened here may not happen to the same degree in an established neighborhood.  But, the farming principle remains the same.

About 6.5% of Miami is in a church service in Miami on Sunday morning.  Yet, 25% of the households in my neighborhood of 80 homes attend Life PointeWe are actively engaging our neighbors in daily life (parties, watch football, give one another’s children rides to school, stand around in driveways and talk)Another thing that we did was to strategically leverage and invite those same people to church on big days.  We’ve basically “farmed” our community.

We have a BIG DAY this weekend where we’ll launch a 3rd service and kick off a new message series.  In about 30 minutes, I’ll do what I have done on every big day at Life Pointe.  I’ll handwrite an invitation on nice stationery and include my address, cell number, and message series invite card.  Then, I’ll walk the invitations around to all of my neighboring homes and place the invitation in the door (without knocking).

With a fair amount of certainty, I can predict that I will have at least one new family on my street visit Life Pointe this Sunday.  This invitation might be the 8th or 9th invitation they received from me over the past couple years.  This week, they may also get an invitation at work from a co-worker.  They might get a postcard in the mail.  They may have gotten any number of Life Pointe interactions this week.  In total, we’ve attempted to get 70,000 touches out this week between our MySpaces, Facebook, emails, phone calls, text messages, mailed post cards, and personal invites.  This personal touch may be the very thing that pushes them over the edge.

Farming a neighborhood requires regular, long-term cultivation of soil, planting of seed, watering, and seasonal attention.  If you overwork a field, you can destroy it.  If you under work a field, you can fail to reap the full benefits of its potential harvest.

I don’t know what the maximum output of this field is.  But, I’m going to try to find out.

  • What are some things you’ve done to farm your neighborhood, workplace, or other social settings?
  • What have you found to be successful?
  • What do you consider to be tacky or detrimental to Gospel advancement?

2 Responses

  1. Travis,
    Your organization is impressive! Maybe, very few COG pastors in the US are farming their neighborhoods. Or at best it is sporadic and not intentional.

    Several challenges are set before the average COG pastor in the US and effectively farming their neighborhoods is probably something that they would like to do but other “good” or “important” things crowd it out.

    Challenge #1 Monetary issues, struggling to keep the doors open and bills paid, dominate much of the time/energy of the pastor in the US (attendance 65 and under). This can have a paralyzing effect.

    Challenge #2 Isolation. I have not done a study on the subject but my observation is that many COG pastors, especially in mission states, have very few if any friends and do not, in general, work with other denominations in cooperative efforts for the gospel. It can also be very disheartening when these pastors hear from no one who is encouraging them in their ministry.

    Challenge #3 A friend of sinners? Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners could the same be said of us? Unless Travis or “Pastor average guy or gal” is intentional about being where sinners are (carpool, driveways, block parties etc.) we will not have any significant relationships with unchurched people. This is how we lead by example. Sinners and children were attracted to Jesus. Are they attracted to you?

    The challenge for all of us is to be a friend to sinners. How many unchurched individuals do you have a relationship with? If the answer is zero there is a problem. If Jesus found the time… so can we!

    How can we counter these challenges and leverage them for the benefit of the Kingdom of God?

  2. I love Challenga #3. This is something I’m working on. I live in Cleveland TN, move here from SC (went to LEE) so most of the people I know are Lee people. Just take about this last night with our college kids @ the Mecca I mean North Cleveland Church of God, to be true christians but have no unsaved friends, is not very Christ like. Thanks for the reminder

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