Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper describe an “aha moment” in their ministry:
At Sojourn, we gather large on Sundays and small in community groups and in homes throughout the week. One of our community group coaches went to visit a community group a while back, and found this tendency at work.It was a newer group at a campus that had recently launched, and the group members were eager to do something big and evangelistic. They wanted to coordinate a fall festival or cookout at the campus, inviting the neighborhood around the church to attend. The coach listened, nodding, and finally interrupted.
“These are all great ideas, but let me ask you something. What’s the guy’s name in the house next door?”
There was a long and awkward pause. Finally the group leader spoke up. “Uh, I’m not sure.”
“How ’bout across the street?” the coach asked.
This time the leader knew a first name, but when pressed further, he didn’t know the wife’s name, the kids’ names, or what the neighbor did for a living. The group had a big vision for reaching the “lost,” but they didn’t have affection for the people living just next door.
The coach, wisely, identified something all too common for us. We’re happy to put together projects and throw big events at our churches. We’re much more hesitant to befriend neighbors, share life with them, and be witnesses to grace in our ordinary, everyday interactions.
—Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper, Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 183.
Matthew 22:39: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Helpful book on this subject: The Art of Neighboring.