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The Small Town “Art of Neighboring” pt. 5

Small Town USA

Small Town USA

Our partnership exists to help church planters and churches effectively plant new churches in small towns. When we think about “doing the stuff,” we think about participating in kingdom work in rural America. Two of our goals are to (1) strategically work together to effectively plant healthy churches in small town USA and (2) equip, empower, and resource church planters heading into rural communities.
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Happy New Year! You’ve made your resolution right? Signed up at the local gym and actually showed up for the first workout,right? If you’re like me, I feared walking into the gym the first time, especially after not working out for many years. It’s one of the reason many of us never carry out our desire to get in better shape. We conjure up what everyone in the gym will be thinking about us and how we will probably look ridiculous. It’s hard to get past the feeling but let me encourage you. Once you go, the worse thing that can happen is you faint. Yep, that’s what happened to me. I guess I missed the part about eating something during the day before you come to expend ever ounce of energy you have for the first time working out. All in all, it actually broke the ice and all the thoughts I conjured up in my mind, never came to pass, Just the opposite, I made many new friends.

Chapter 4 of the book The Art of Neighboring authored by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon deals with the “Fear Factor” which affects us all.

Jay writes when he and his wife and Danielle moved into a new neighborhood, Danielle bake pies for the neighbors and they attempted to hand them out to each of them but ran into some resistance. The fear of continued rejection could have kept them from making connections and to get the opportunity to share and show Jesus and His love.

The desire to plant in small town can cause the same fears. Fear of the unknown, rejection and simply what ever else we conjure up in our own minds. In The Art of Neighboring, Jay harnesses the message from Numbers 13 to help us understand …

When the Israelites first considered entering the Promised Land, they came to the border and stopped. In Numbers 13 we read their story. The Israelites sent twelve spies into the land, and all except two came back with fearful reports. “The land is fantastic,” said the ten fearful spies. “Everywhere we looked, the whole country flowed with milk and honey. But the people who live there are giants, and there is absolutely no way that we Israelites could ever take possession of the land.” They even went so far as to say that their enemies saw them as nothing more than grasshoppers. ‘

You know the story of Joshua and Caleb, and how they refused to allow the fear that had taken hold of the other 10 spies and not let them move forward on the promise of God. 40 years later all the Israelites who chose the same fear of the 10 spies never saw the fruit of the Promise. Small town planting can allow us to conjure the same fears we read about in this chapter. These fears can become debilitating to some. Here’s the hope and truth from 2 Timothy

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self- discipline” (1:7).

Bringing back around, The Art of Neighboring is about getting to know your neighbors and being a better neighbor. What you do or don’t do in your neighborhood will reflect in the small town you plant in. NO FEAR….right?

Questions:

  • Are you skeptical about anyone in your neighborhood? Why?
  • What are some practical ways you can overcome your fears of interacting with neighbors you don’t know.

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About the author
Ronnie Higuera is a pastor at Canyon View Vineyard Church in Grand Junction, Colorado. He served as worship pastor for 12 years.  He has been a catalyst for multi-sites for a number of years and currently serves as Campus Pastor for Canyon View’s first video venue located16 miles away in the agricultural small town community of Palisade, CO. He and his wife Karen have 6 children and 6 grandchildren. Ronnie began following Jesus at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Grand Junction in 1994. He serves on The Small Town USA team partnership. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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