The November 2022 edition of Alban at the Duke Divinity School by Tom Rumble invites churches to ask…Who is your neighbor?
Far from being quaint relics of a bygone era, neighbors and neighborhoods still matter, even for churches. A 2017 Baylor University study found that people prefer to keep church local. The study determined that on average, we drive about half the distance (or less) to church that we drive to work. Neighborhoods are the places and spaces where people in our churches are living their faith Monday through Saturday.
If we have learned nothing else in recent years, we’ve learned that we cannot thrive without strong personal connections. Churches are often long-standing institutions within neighborhoods, but churches often lose their connection with their neighbors over time. Children grow up, families relocate and the connections that once happened organically because of the overlap between the church and community cease to exist.
Tending to the relationships in our neighborhoods is central to living out the gospel. As we get to know our neighborhoods, we get better acquainted with the hurts, hopes and gifts of the people who live among us. When we know each other’s gifts, innovative possibilities emerge. People who were once unseen become seen. An expert in the law once asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) How might your leadership team answer that question?