From “positive loitering” to a relationship

Posted: October 1, 2013 by efenster in Stories
Tags: , , , ,

Kristos-130922 BA week ago I joined a group from St. Joseph United Methodist Church that is planting a new faith community near my home in Fort Wayne.  We gathered on Sunday afternoon for a time of “positive loitering” on an empty lot.  Someone brought a grill, another a kickball, others beverages, and then we just rubbed shoulders with the nearly 70 folk from the neighborhood who passed by during the two hours we were there.

This wasn’t just a random act of kindness though.  It was part of a strategy to establish a faith community that isn’t based on an attractional worship-centered model of church planting, but rather on relational discipleship-centered model.  The objective is developing relationships in natural, normal ways–where the people are–rather than expecting them to come to us and participate in our programs.

Before our positive loitering happened, teams of people led by Steve Mekaru from St. Joseph UMC prayer-walked the neighborhoods in the target area.  This has been going on for months and months.  As a result, Steve and those walking have been meeting people–on their porches, in their yards, on their stoops–hearing their stories, learning their names, and listening to where God was moving.  What he and the teams discovered is that a particular neighborhood, just north of my home, is especially open and receptive to us.  That’s how we ended up in that neighborhood a week ago with our positive loitering.

While there I met Bob, Junior, and John.  Bob (not his real name) said he had been kicked out of his ex-girlfriend’s home and that she had stolen all of the equipment that he used to paint houses.  Hmmm, I thought.  I have the equipment and I need one side of my house painted.  So, all last week Bob, Junior and John painted my house.  The painting was just an excuse to continue building a relationship with these guys.

What I discovered is that one of them, Junior, turned out to be a very honest, dependable, and skilled painter.  Word is now out in my neighborhood and he’s getting other job offers.  We’ve even talked about what it would take to start his own business.    No telling what may happen.  So, this weekend I’m having Junior over for dinner to celebrate the great job he did.  We’re continuing to build a relationship.  Although he is active in a church, there’s no telling where this may go.  More on this next week…

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

  1. Debbie says:

    I always find your posts so uplifting. Thanks for sharing the good things that are happening in your neighborhood.

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