The Neighborhood Liturgies


Small Steps with a Big Heart

It has been nearly an entire year since the conversation of The Neighborhood Liturgies started in our living room. We were hurt from the church, felt cast aside and shelved from ministry. It was almost like we felt as if we were not allowed to be Christians. This was somewhat true in the context that we had a spiritual community. Every idea that a person had to serve in the open was almost absorbed into or laughed off by the spiritual community we were in. This was not a construct of the church but instead a handful of the people in it. What were we to do? All Christ like action felt like it needed to be taken in a group setting rather than individually. This is why we started.

We wanted to be Christians who loved our neighbors. People who attended a church but didn’t limit ourselves by the church. We envisioned block parties and big actions! It was all that we knew in how to serve Jesus. “Big! Awesome! HUGE!” is how we learned to “sell” Jesus. Event driven mass exposure is all we had. That was the problem. Jesus started small. Jesus although he held the fabric of the universe together and is consubstantially with the Father he remained small. This smallness was not in stature or physical appearances but instead smallness in ego. Jesus was humble.

We want to be humble people who practically love God and people. It took us half of a year of doing the stuff to realize that the best thing we can do is shrink the scope and “dream” of this project. It was deflating not having our city block closed and lined with bounce houses and food trucks. I won’t pull punches there. It wasn’t the best feeling to create an event and have to cancel due to funding. We are always told that big ideas start small and to keep pushing.

I keep thinking of the prosperity gospel mentality that God is for us so we will march into the city and take it for Jesus.  How arrogant to assume that God’s ways are so abrupt and forceful! Leonard Cohen may have said it best in his song “Hallelujah” that love (which is the attribute of God) “is not a victory march”. This is no longer what we want to be as a project. We don’t want to put on the image of a victory march but, we do want to enter into the cold and broken “Hallelujahs”.

Our neighbors are still our primary focus but, that has been shrunken down to our immediate section of our block. We want to get to know the people that we see when we walk our dog. We hope to love the people that can’t bring their own garbage cans in from the curb. Wherever our eyes travel we want to look upon others with sincerity. With this we have some work to do.

  • Our website will be shrinking

  • Our events will be more localized

  • Our ministry will be more practical

Last year we received a decent amount of traffic to our site but, some feedback was that it was too hard to navigate. We are going to shrink the amount of tabs used to simplify the access. Our blog was very well read over but, the events pages and contact was lost in the sauce. It was difficult for people to get what they wanted from us and this was feedback we are taking to heart.

Our events took place over 2 cities last year. We do want to expand this so what we anticipate is to allow the neighbor to run the night themselves and utilize our resources as their resources. We want to localize in the sense that if we go to your city we want you to talk to your neighbors and maintain the relationships. Our city block is our sanctuary and it’s only fitting that your block is yours. We are block party priests, you are block party priests.

This ministry will literally become just few Christians who want to be Christ like. This means we won’t highlight the events so much but instead write about the reflections from Christian living. We want to host dinner parties with people who are not like us. There are people without a home that need support along our drive to work and we want to find practical ways to help them through. One of the most wonderful things we got to do this year was provide a Thanksgiving dinner to a child in our neighborhood. This was way better than any podcast interview or high turnout to a movie night!

We don’t want big events and small connections. We want small steps with a big heart. Generosity is our DNA and love is our core. Remembering these things will keep these neighborhood liturgies orthodox and intimate.

Much Love-

Charlie & Allie

Charles PorterComment