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Adopt-a-block

by on July 20, 2010

Had the pleasure of meeting Wayne (sp?) from Berkeley in the Wollonging region, yesterday. He’s leading a missional church plant in a very blue collar, unreached suburb down there. They’ve been going a few years, and Wayne described to me what they do.

Each of the guys in their small start up team adopted a block, and visited the homes there weekly. Get that? Weekly. This is not doorknocking, it’s relational visiting, friendship-building, community engagement. They didn’t go to preach the gospel, they went to show an interest. At first it wasn’t easy to connect – the block was quick to get around. By now, it takes Wayne the whole week to get around the block! People know him, know he’s coming, look forward to seeing him.

He told me, ‘Eventually, of course, they want to know more about who you are, and why you’re doing it. That’s when you can start telling people the gospel.’ In fact, at Berkeley they’ve sometimes had trouble with helpers coming in from other churches. ‘They went in too hard, too fast’, Wayne tells me. ‘Gospel outlines and all that. People felt threatened.’

Now they find people turn up at the Berkeley church, and some of them are not even sure why they’ve come. They just come because they’ve got a friend there: the guy that adopted their block. By now, after  a few years of investing  in people, Wayne and his guys are getting gospel opportunities with them.

You can imagine I enjoyed our chat!

Why isn’t everyone doing this? Serious question. Thoughts?

From → General

7 Comments
  1. I’ve been thinking about this since you mentioned it briefly recently. I think its effectiveness will probably vary with location, but I think we should probably be trying it. We need to think about whether to do it in couples or singles, how often, how it fits in with other ideas, etc, But I can only feel that it’s a good idea.

  2. matyeo permalink

    It sounds great, depending on your people power, and far you want to spread the net. At our church, we doorknocked 5 times over the year. We still got recognition, but obviously not nearly the same as weekly. We were spreading the net wide. The doorknocked included 1200 homes. After reading about Berkeley, I might rethink!

    • Thanks for your input, Mat. You guys are doing an awesome job at Hurstville Grove.

      How you do it depends what you’re aiming for, of course. Traditionally we’ve aimed to raise the profile of our churches, in the hope that people would gradually come along. I.e. an attractional model. So five times a year is good coverage. If that works well, why not?

      We don’t think that will work for Canterbury. In our vision statement we’ve said:

      9. We will limit the geographic sphere of our mission to a reasonable radius, to keep it ‘local’.

      The further afield you go, the lower the level of impact and involvement in your community. We want to maintain our vision for community engagement.

      If you’re wanting the relationships to form ‘out there’ before people are expected to come in to church, then 5 times a year is obviously not in the ballpark. You need 20+ times, and weekly is ideal. We’re going for high impact, small area. Once we’ve connected there, we can expand. There’s no way we’ll cover 1200 homes any time soon. btw how many homes in, say, ten blocks? Anyone know?

      Andrew Nixon from Connect09 reckons attractional ministry doesn’t work any more in Sydney, people just aren’t willing to come. I’m not sure if that’s always true, Sydney’s a pretty varied place. But worth asking whether attractional is the best approach these days. (I recently posted some concerns I have about it.) Given the ineffectiveness of most of our current mission strategies for Sydney, it might be time for a rethink? Not commenting on Hurstville Grove btw, just Sydney churches generally. I think you guys are having more mission success than most, and I’d like to learn more about what you do.

  3. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    • Thanks Schoolie. We value your encouragement greatly. So often we feel like we’re bashing our head against the proverbial brick wall, trying to get mission happening in Canterbury region. It’s great to hear from supportive people out there.https://canterburychurchplant.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

  4. “btw how many homes in, say, ten blocks? Anyone know?”

    Google Maps is your friend. If you look at the block the church is in, then every block that has a side or corner touching that block, you find there are 8 altogether (most of them radiating out from the corner of Church St and Canterbury Rd.

    It is hard to count houses, because some roofs could be shops, small industrial, or homes, but my approximate counts were:

    16, 26, 0 (the school block), 9, 16, 26, 38, 44 = an average of 25 if you ignore the school block as unrepresentative.

    So you would guess 250 homes in 10 blocks, give or take.

    Aren’t you glad you have a nerdish civil engineer on the team?? : )

  5. The worry with door-knocking of course, is how it puts some people (like me) off-side, as much as it puts others on-side over time.

    Howver – I love knowing that people are unlike me, and will respond to door-knocking. Thinking from a sales training background – it is literally “cold calling”, and you have to do it again and again (and again) to build “warm leads” (relationships). Obviously, with a really committed team and the right demographic, this can work well.

    Is this our demographic… and do we have any way of finding out except knocking doors and asking? *grin*

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