Since 2012 we have been recruiting new friends to take spiritual responsibility for the street they live on. We've passed 2% of all the streets in the UK.
Neighbourhood Prayer Network started as a dream in the heart of a nine year old. Rebekah (my wife) could see things on her street change, isolation, crime, friendliness all slowly but steadily became worse. The feeling Rebekah experienced back then, grew into an idea for a ministry where ordinary Christians would become change agents on their streets. Where people wouldn't wait for something to happen, they would pray and make something happen.
Up and down the Nation people have decided to Pray for, take care of and share faith with their Neighbours.
When Rebekah and I moved to Manchester in 2011, we thought, we'd buy or dream house. Rebekah was working as a GP and I had a good salary as a Director at UCB. God had other plans though and led us to buy a house on a rough estate near Sale. I guess He wanted us to live out the vision we were going to share with people. One end of our street (our end) was quieter with a number of houses occupied with pensioners, the other end of the street and the street behind us was like Beruit on a good day. We realised how bad things were when we moved to Wales in 2016. The village we were looking to move to had 3 crimes listed per month, our street had over 160 crimes listed per month - first figure a whole village, second figure a street.
When we moved in in November 2011, I had the bright idea of putting a Christmas party, get to know the neighbours etc. So I did a big buffet, we did nice invitations, the day arrived and guess what - no one came.
It's in those moments of defeat and deflation you have to think on your feet. How could we turn this around. So we got some plates put together the food, cakes etc, and then proceeded to knock on our neighbours - Sorry you could make the party, we kept something for you. Folk were a bit sheepish, still suspicious but everyone accepted.
The following year, around half the neighbours came, the year after that it was standing room only.
Bringing change takes time, takes patience, you have to be intentional and you have to sacrifice. When Mel across the road had a heart attack, we cooked food for him every day for a couple of weeks. When Hilda fell, we waited with her for the ambulance, did her shopping, just dropped by to keep her company.
We never hid the fact we were Christians, but decided to 'be' the gospel more than preach it. Eventually we opened up a house Church which was a stretch for the immediate neighbours, but did bring others in from a little further afield. That outgrew the house, and eventually we merged that work into a larger Church in Manchester.
Making yourself available to help people has it's ups and downs, but we realised some of the folk on the street were living in almost complete isolation, only seeing a family member perhaps once a week. Whether its fear of what might happen, or old age which stopped them getting out a bit, we changed that while we were there.
There are 260,000 streets in the UK and 4 million Christians. That means there are 15 Christians for every street in the country. That also means there are 240 people living on every street. If the 15 made it their life's work to touch, serve, pray for the 240, there would be a transformation in the Nation.
In reaching 2%, we could say, there's too much left to do. We could close shop and give up. However if we view what's left to do as new territory for the Gospel and see everyone around us as Christians waiting to happen, then there is plenty of opportunity.
Neighbourhood Prayer Network has already gathered hundreds of testimonies from people who have seen dramatic change on their street because they prayed. In fact we'll produce a 300 page (second book) in the autumn which will contain some of them.
If you would like to take spiritual responsibility for your street, you can register by Clicking Here.
Let's be the change that we want, let's take the Church to the people.