Neighbourhood Communities: A Common Pathway

South West Baptist Church (SWBC) is becoming a presence-based church framed around neighbourhood communities. A neighbourhood community is simply a bunch of friends committed to following Jesus together by living in the same neighbourhood and going on the journey of learning to loving God, themselves, each other and the world.

This brochure is for those developing a neighbourhood community and describes nine stages on the pathway. Like all practical descriptions it simplifies reality because every neighbourhood and the people in them are different, but it is still helpful.

Coast to Coast






The neighbourhood community journey can be a bit like the annual Coast to Coast adventure race from Kumara to New Brighton.  The 243-km course takes competitors through rivers, mountains and plains from rural Westland to urban Christchurch. It’s six sections require running, cycling and kayaking to traverse the different parts of the course.

The journey has lots of different ‘terrain’ and we need different ways of doing things. Some parts are easy going and others very difficult. There are times of enthusiasm and celebration, discouragement and sadness. There will be periods of clarity and purposefulness when the path is crystal clear but also moments when everything seems foggy or confused. These nine stages represent a general sequence that neighbourhood communities tend to go through over many years.

nine stages




In real life the boundaries between these stages aren’t neatly defined. Frequently there will be the sense that a neighbourhood community is wrestling with two or more of these at the same time. Figure 2 therefore, makes for easier explanation but inevitably oversimplifies the experience.

Figure 3 below describes this. These elements always take place in the context of the four relationships of God, self, each other and world that every neighbourhood community is centred around. In fact, the key issue with every element is how the four relationships are lived out within that phase.

nine phases