How Is God Working in Your Community?

In the last few posts, I've written about some of the skills needed for a laborer to root in his or her neighborhood. I’ve used the acrostic ROOT: Relate to everyone, Openness to the reality of your place and the presence of the Holy Spirit, Organize around existing assets, Trust God. You can find previous articles in the series here
In this final post on this topic, let’s talk about the importance of trusting God for the people in our neighborhood. It’s important for us to remember that, wherever we live, God is already at work. We know this because, as the Lord of the harvest, He has planted us in a place as sons and daughters of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:24-30).

The key for us as His followers is to have spiritual eyes to see what God is doing in our midst. What are the skills necessary to do this? There are many, but allow me to share three that have proven effective in many different contexts.
Prayer Walking: Walk around your neighborhood and pray for the people that you meet and pass. Pray for the people in the homes that you walk by. Notice things to praise God for and issues to ask God to work in. Let your walk guide your prayer and let your prayer guide your walking. Once, Iris and I were on such a walk and we found ourselves standing in front of a vacant house. God led us to pray for like-hearted co-laborers to move into that home and that is exactly what happened. The people who moved in became prayer partners and when we eventually moved, they continued to lead a small neighborhood Bible discussion group in the neighborhood.

Claim Promises: Some of you may be familiar with the concept of receiving promises from God through the Scriptures and praying them by faith. It could be argued that The Navigators exists as an organization through the promises of God. I’ve been amazed recently, by how many promises God has made to The Navigators, like this one from Isaiah, that lead us to the cities and to our own neighborhoods: 

Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by GOD to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins; raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new. —Isaiah 61:3–4, MSG

Be a Faithful Presence: The followers of Christ are living stones being built into a spiritual house and a holy priesthood. People do not need to go to a building to meet Christ—you are His building! People do not need to find a religious professional to bring them the Christ—you are His priests! A priest represents God to the people and the people to God. We must help people grasp the truth that simply being present with the people in our neighborhoods is a very powerful thing. The power is not in ourselves but in the Spirit of the living God who dwells in each of us.

I hope that this acrostic, ROOT, has helped a bit with the question, “What does it mean to be a faithful presence, planted in the neighborhood?” These qualities and skills ought to be true for every one of us, because all of us live in a place. In addition to living as a faithful presence in a neighborhood, there are specific contributions we are asking Nav Neighbors staff to make. This will be the topic of my next blog series, Flourish.

For now, how have you noticed God already at work in your neighborhood? Which one(s) of the above three ways of seeing just what God’s doing in your community might you put into practice?

Al Engler serves as director of Nav Neighbors, a Mission of The Navigators. You can learn more about the Englers' Navigator ministry or email Al here.