Seattle is home to the Boeing company, a significant employer for several neighborhoods in the north and south ends of the city. One of the rhythms that a Community Group in those neighborhoods must contend with is the work schedule for Boeing employees. To offset the Boeing schedule with traffic patterns, the typical manufacturing shift is from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. rather than from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To hold a group at a typical time of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. would effectively exclude the majority of families in that neighborhood. They are on a different rhythm and need to be in bed by 9 p.m. to get up for work the next day. A group that observes this rhythm, however, can adjust the times when they gather to match the rhythms of that neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Beat
As we discussed before, the idea is to be intentional and ask why we do the things we do. What are the natural rhythms in your neighborhood and how can you begin to harmonize with them? Can you hear the beat of your neighborhood?
Everyone has a story about why it is hard to hear the neighborhood rhythms, but the reality is that very few are actually looking and listening. We are not accustomed to paying attention. The motivation to do so must come from our love of Jesus and recognition of his grace to us. When we are aware of this, we can get pretty excited about paying attention.
“The best leaders become students of their mission field.”
Practically, to hear the beat of your community you need be in it, walking it, and talking to people. Baristas, mailmen, bartenders, and checkout clerks are all observers of life in your neighborhood that you see every day and probably never ask more than an obligatory, “How are you?” If you want to get to know the vibe and the rhythms of your group, ask more questions of these folks. They have a wealth of social knowledge.
Study Your Streets
If you want to build a Community Group that leaves a lasting gospel effect on your neighborhood, you need to make it your goal to know as much about your neighborhood as you can. If community is happening, then you should be a part of it. Join neighborhood associations and community centers. Spend 20 minutes in front of the community bulletin board and take note of the types of activities that are happening in the community. Subscribe to community newsletters and blogs. Walk your neighborhood and pray that the Holy Spirit would help you see the rhythms of your community and the opportunities to build bridges.
“What are the natural rhythms in your neighborhood and how can you begin to harmonize with them?”
The best leaders become students of their mission field. As you become better at observing culture and rhythms, you will be more effective in reaching people for Jesus and you will become better at shepherding your group to become healthier disciples of Christ.