Starting

The new year brings with it questions about the last.  And the one question asked most last year revolved around learning.  In other words, what did you learn from loving your neighbours?  ‘Learning’ itself was central to all that went on in Neighbourhood Life.  Too many people can show a desire to help without knowing the root cause, much like the mission field in developing countries where the visitor comes in with a saviour mentality and solves the problem.  I was that guy, wanting to buy a flag for a poor school, only to find out that the flag was not raised until certain celebrations, or the time I bought an appliance for one family only to find out that it would misused due to lack of electricity.  Others feel that ‘loving your neighbour’ means they must be a service provider of some sort, or adds to the schedule, making our love for neighbours more of a checklist item in our life.  Perhaps we should just live to learn from our neighbours before we breathe any life into their lives.

In the mean time, Neighourhood Life is suggesting other disciplines for 2018.  Last year we covered the practice of re-imagining and the practice of hospitality as disciplines in our neighbourhood.  Starting January 14th, we will focus on the practice of vulnerability, which in itself is a topic that begins to make us vulnerable.  The reason we want to take this discipline head on is because its a game changer among neighbours.  The discussion of ‘practicing vulnerability among neighbours’ brings a variety of emotions to the forefront, no doubt!  In February we will focus on the practice of investment and the practice of trust.  Later, in the spring, we will practice the art of conversation as a way to lead us into block party season.

If you want a head start n these disicplines, you will find them in my book, “Neighouring for Life’ available on lulu.com or amazon.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

I really appreciate the faithful supporters of Neighbourhood Life.  Especially my neighbours.  This morning I found a gift with a card that a neighbour left inside our door while we were away (see pic).  Outside of the nice words, I am grateful for neighbours who are comfortable enough to let themselves in our home when we are not (read more about this in a book entitled, “Refrigerator Rights”).

  It has been another great year full of surprises and new insights.  This past year we worked at learning from neighbours; from building relationships to building buildings.   I believe our neighbourhoods are our greatest classroom!

One thing I learned is to “sock your neighbour” (see last post) when its dark.  While placing the stocking full of treats on a neighbours door during daylight hours, I heard him come out of his house while saying, “I have a gun….get off my property….Merry Christmas” – all in good fun!

Our book, “Neighbouring for Life” also had a great year and some great responses:

“Rick is a master story teller who knows more about being a great neighbour than anyone I know. This book is a must read for people who’s faith compels them to care‎ for others and build deeper relationships. If you want to improve your quality of life the simplest way is to get to know your neighbors. Rick not only shows you how but his stories will inspire you to actually do it.”
– Paul Born – best selling author of Deepening Community and Community Conversations and President of the Tamarack Institute,  University of Waterloo.
“Rick Abma doesn’t just talk and write about community; he lives it.  ‘Neighbouring for Life’ summarizes the valuable lessons he has learned from his experience as a neighbour.  Rick argues that community isn’t something we do in our spare time but rather its a way of life that can be realized through practices, not programs.  His book illustrates this with stories that are as rich and stimulating as the Good Neighbour Coffee he roasts.”
– Jim Diers – consultant and author at Neighbor Power, Seattle, Washington
Let me know if you want a copy?
And the great year continued with an invitation to Terrace, BC for 9 days of training on neighbouring for life.  It went well….we walked many neighbourhoods,.  In the new year I will make my way back there for more.
Thanks you all!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Rick Abma

An Other Kingdom

My new book just came in the mail.  Two community neighbourhood guru’s and an Old Testament professor wrote this book together, “An Other Kingdom.” Peter Block and John McKnight join Walter Bruggemann in helping us depart the consumer culture.  And the alternative has to do with our neighbourhood.  It’s kind of like a cultural detox!  This is a deep massage challenging us to relieve ourselves from tiredness and busyness, and hit the refresh button!  Oh how cool it would be to live in a world where people bloomed where they were planted instead of chasing the never ending desires of want.

Departing Consumer Culture

As the back of jacket says, “The consumer culture holds the belief that no amount is enough.  The free market ideology produces economic crisis, violence, and an exhausted planet.  An Other Kingdom provides a new narrative, a shift in our thinking and speaking, to take us out of addictive consumption into a place where contract is replaced by covenant, consumption is replaced by neighbourliness, and time is reclaimed as our own. “

The Turquoise Table

Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard

“The Turquoise Table” (Kristen Schell; Thomas Nelson 2017) is a new book about an old concept that challenges us to gather around the table…with our neighbours…in our front yard!  Pretty simple concept, but perhaps a lost art.  In fact, we may have almost lost our imagination as to how this can be reclaimed.  Many families have gathered around the Thanksgiving table this weekend.  The joy of this picture had once took place everyday…..and sometimes multiple times on one day!  Today, it is a dream for some to be around the table for any given length of time with some of our family.  Imagine the family gathering on a regular basis around the table as they did on Thanksgiving Day throughout the year.  Now imagine your neighbours gathering around the table throughout the year.  These simple acts are transformative for the lives of family members as they are for neighbours and their neighbourhoods!

Whether your table is one colour or another, may we grow in the direction of eating together around the table.  Remember and believe!

 

Open House

Over the past year a number of neighbourhood leaders and business men helped orchestrate a brand new ‘third space’ called the “Good Neighbour CoffeeHouse.”  This business supports initiatives that help neighbours connect and for people to “bloom where they are planted.”  The space features true stories from various neighbourhoods, private tours for neighbouorhoods, and a regular place in which neighbours can bump into each other.  And we would like to invite you to our open house this Saturday, June 17th from 7am – 7pm to celebrate with us.  Ribbon cutting at 1:30pm.  Official book launch for our book, “Neighouring For Life.”  We will be skyping with the farmers who grow our beans in Honduras.  And discounting all  food and drink items for the day.  Thanks for your support!

“Neighbouring for Life”

“Neighbouring for Life” has been a three year project, filled with many stories of deepening community.  We are proud to announce that it is now available to order or download.  We are grateful for the many who have supported this project and contributed stories from being an intentional presence in their neighbourhood.  In a few weeks the book will be available from a variety of websites, but for those want it now and have waited patiently, here it is:

Order here!

After 20 years of ministry in the church, Rick ventured into a full time missionary position that focuses on bringing the “good news” to people right where they live. These pages are filled with stories that follow the transition from the institutional church into the mission of various neighbourhoods.

Local Salt and Light

This recently published article highlights Neighbourhood Life and our up and coming book, “Neighbouring for Life”:

“Love your neighbour” is the second greatest commandment in the New Testament. But what does this look like practically in the physical spaces where we live? Abma is working towards a solution for that question through Neighbourhood Life (NL), a grass-roots initiative in Central Alberta that seeks to enable Christians to actively engage with their neighbours.

Local salt and light

“RUMOURS” BY KAREN TAMMINGA-PATON.

“Love your neighbour” is the second greatest commandment in the New Testament. But what does this look like practically in the physical spaces where we live? What if, in the words of Rick Abma, a missionary in Central Alberta, our traditional efforts to obey this command are carried out at the expense of the person next to us?

Abma is working towards a solution for that question through Neighbourhood Life (NL), a grass-roots initiative in Central Alberta that seeks to enable Christians to actively engage with their neighbours. After 20+ years serving as a CRC pastor in the institutional church, Abma recognized a problem – a shortfall of people coming to the church as an institution. Believing that the answer was not in adding more programs, he resigned from his position and began fundraising to work full time as a missionary in his back yard, building intentional neighbourhoods.

“In the context of church, I’ve observed a tendency for some of us to become so wrapped up in certain elements of the organization and the programs, that we miss the objective of actually engaging with the world we are called to serve,” Abma explained, going on to say that he desires to see less focus on the ecclesiastical aspect of church and more on discipleship.

God will orchestrate
Rick started by beginning to build relationships with people who had been his neighbours for 20 years, emphasizing that the goal is not to try to get people to come to church. Rather, the purpose is to simply live out the commandment, bloom where you are planted and see what God will orchestrate.

And God has orchestrated some pretty remarkable stories, as shared in Abma’s new book, out this month. The pages ofNeighbouring for Life (Lulu Publishing) are filled with surprising and delightful anecdotes of the joy and small miracles that can occur when people simply start taking the time to get to know their neighbours.

It seems so simple, but for many people the hardest part is knowing where and how to start, and overcoming two big obstacles – busyness and fear. Calling himself a catalyst, Abma is currently working in over 10 neighbourhoods, helping people find ways to overcome these challenges and to be disciples in their neighbourhood.

“I’m operating from the assumption that most Christians want to obey the command to be salt and light in their community; to be disciples of Jesus,” Abma states, describing how he once used a map of his town to mark off all the areas where Christians lived, based on information from the pastors of each of the various churches. “Imagine the impact we could have if every Christian would do a little something in their neighbourhood!”

Believing that loving your neighbour should be no different than loving your children, Abma says that there are so many things you can do. “People will tell me ‘I’m not an extrovert. I can’t talk to other people as easily as you can!’ or ‘I don’t even have time for my family; how can I make time for my neighbours?’ but it doesn’t have to be big or complicated. The key is to go out with the mindset of searching for where God is already at work. Observe your neighbourhood; discern the beauty and the brokenness.”

Opening the door
The Neighbourhood Life website outlines “Steps to Start” – things like finding a willing neighbour to partner with you, praying for your neighbours and giving of your time, talents or treasures. Abma shared an example of one couple who loved to bake and decided to make five platters of cookies to bring to their neighbours. They didn’t get further than the first house, where they encountered a lonely older gentleman who was longing for company. They stayed and visited, and a relationship grew. Another family asked their neighbours to look after their house while they were on vacation. They returned to a big “welcome home” banner made by the children and two meals in their freezer!

Neighbourhood Life helps neighbours start by offering the free use of their “tool kit” – a number of items that can facilitate large crowd gatherings, such as a commercial size travelling barbeque grill and a meeting tent, which Rick and his partners will set up and clean up free of charge.

They also offer freshly roasted coffee in the form of a free, live event. What began as a fundraiser to bring in initial income for the ministry has turned into a full circle business whose profits now fund 20 percent of Neighbourhood Life’s expenses. The high-end raw coffee beans are purchased by a group of four people from Canada that support 55 farmers in Honduras including the Carpenteros group from Ontario, that Rick met when he lived there a few years back. The roasted coffee (goodneighbourcoffee.ca) is sold throughout Alberta in packages that contain stories of transformed lives in neighbourhoods across the region. As he demonstrates the roasting process at live events, it becomes somewhat of a “mini-pulpit” for him to share more of the stories of what is happening through NL and in Honduras.

“Wherever we go, and whatever we do, people ask us ‘Why are you doing this?’ and it opens the door for me to tell them about this big command that Jesus gives us in the Bible to love our neighbours . . . and it just takes off from there!”

Abma’s BBQ grill comes with wheels, fuel and two coolers.

New benchmarks
Rick receives some support through Christian Reformed Home Missions as well as from local churches and businesses. The biggest challenge in finding support, he says, is that it’s hard to measure success, since NL isn’t set up as an organized ministry model with stated visions and goals. The stories themselves, however, shout the success of lives transformed, and as NL continues to grow it is starting to attract attention from outside of the denomination. Rick has had numerous opportunities to teach and lead workshops in churches and with local city leaders. Currently, the cities of Red Deer, Lacombe and Sylvan Lake are actively promoting the work of NL.

Rick is excited to see where his so-called “grand experiment” will go next. “Everyone is dying to know what will happen. I am too!” he says with a laugh. At the end of his book, he encourages the reader to dream of what his or her neighbourhoods could become, to “Be creative! Be genuine! And think more of your neighbours than yourself.”

‘Rumours’ artist and inspiration (page 1)
Karen Tamminga-Paton is a painter, storyteller, teacher and community member. She lives in the mountains of the beautiful Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, where she and her husband, Dale, raised three daughter and wander the wilderness every chance they can (tammingapaton.com).
This piece graces the cover of Abma’s new book. “We carry stories,” Karen says, “we carry secrets. All the while, we live side-by-side in our neighbourhoods. It is very possible to live our lives hidden. And yet, everyone holds echoes of something greater […] How well do we recognize that in one another? […] Imagine the rumours of glory that angels whisper over these same individuals – including you – because they know what God sees. How differently we would see one another!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Local salt and light

MONICA KRONEMEYER DEREGT, FEATURES EDITOR

Monica Kronemeyer deRegt joined the Christian Courier editorial team in January 2015. She recently moved from Ontario to Abbotsford, B.C., with her husband and three children. From a very young age, Monica has been drawn to the written word, both as a form of expression but also as a conduit for ministry. She believes that everyone has a story to tell, and that God’s story is shared through our stories. Monica grew up in northern B.C. and graduated from The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta. In addition to writing and editing, Monica loves reading (especially out loud to her children every night!), cooking, learning, singing, and exploring new places with her family, although she is known to be left behind reading every single plaque and trail marker and information poster along the way! Monica invites readers to contact her with ideas for the Features pages, and looks forward to exploring together with the Christian Courier community what it means to follow Christ in every part of the story of our lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monica deRegt is the features editor for Christian Courier. Neighbouring for Life by Rick Abma tells the stories of lives transformed through a grass-roots movement of loving your neighbour. The book will be released November 2016. For more stories and ideas that spur us on to thriving neighbourhoods, follow along at rickabma.com.

Local salt and light

“Love your neighbour” is the second greatest commandment in the New Testament. But what does this look like practically in the physical spaces where we live? Abma is working towards a solution for that question through Neighbourhood Life (NL), a grass-roots initiative in Central Alberta that seeks to enable Christians to actively engage with their neighbours.

http://www.christiancourier.ca/news/entry/local-salt-and-light

Appearance: Local Salt and Light
Outlet: Christian Courier
Location: Canada
Format: Newspaper

"Neighbouring for Life" by Rick Abma, available soon as eBook and traditional.

Margins

There is something we can learn about how we live our lives by the books we pick up to read.  Having just published a book, I have learned many interesting guidelines for making the book a success.  Among many lessons from the publisher, the one that stood out was about margins;  the empty space around the text.  That margin is most important!  Perhaps we do not know how important they are until we pick up that book in which there is very little room around the text.  We react strongly to the layout for various reasons and remark on the books with generous margins, saying how they are much easier on the eyes.

So this helps us by understanding that without margins, we are incapable of relational spontaneity in our neighbourhood.  Without margins, we are uninterested in opportunities to serve our neighbours.  Without margins, we are unable to even think about planning time to spend with others.  Margins create buffers.   They give us room to breathe, freedom to act, and time to adapt.  Only then will we be able to truly nourish our relationships.  Only then will we be available and interruptible for the purposes of God.

Rick

 

 

Coming Soon – Book Release!

The past 3 years have led to the writing of this, soon-to-be-released, book.  Filled with experiences and stories from various practitioners, this ‘recipe book’ increases the imagination of the person who desires to invest in their local neighbourhood as a response to God’s command to love our neighbours.  Various neighbourhoods have collaborated to add seasoning and flavour as we are challenged to be salt and light as participants in the Kingdom of God.  Darkness will be chased away by the light!

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