In 2006, as teaching pastor of a large church in the Denver area, Dave Runyon found himself stalled. "I would spend most of my time on the weekend services," he says, "then go out and wonder, If this is success in ministry, I have to do something else, because it feels pretty empty."

Runyon sought counsel, read Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson's The Externally Focused Church, and was encouraged to "learn his city." He and other local pastors began attending council meetings and visiting civic leaders, all with an eye toward galvanizing churches to tackle a specific problem for the city.

Soon a church network focused on service was launched. That led to a meeting with the mayor of Arvada, Colorado, who suggested that the pastors help teach residents to be better neighbors. "I drove home that day thinking Jesus is a genius," says Runyon, co-author of The Art of Neighboring: Jesus' Call to Love Starts Right Outside Your Door (Baker), coming in August. The notion of loving God wholeheartedly and loving your neighbor as yourself was a strategic plan that could change the world. And thus was born Building Blocks, a multichurch effort to help Denver area church members and attendees engage with the eight neighbors most immediately surrounding them. More than 55 churches and 4,000 households have committed to the cause, and other cities are launching similar efforts.

Question & Answer

Please describe Building Blocks.

We focus on building relationships as opposed to evangelism. If people neighbor well, if people love other people because that's what God told us to do, we believe people will come to know Jesus. People sniff out when strings are attached. That limits effectiveness. Posture is everything. Our motives really do matter.

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