Art of Neighboring

Art of Neighboring

A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life? Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?” He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29, CEB)

The Story of the Good Samaritan is a familiar response that Jesus tells when the legal expert asks, “Who is my neighbor?” However, I’m wondering...how well do you know your neighbors? Do you even know your neighbor’s names? How does your story connect to your neighbor’s story and to God’s story? Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon explores in their book, The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, practical ways for folks in your missional hub to engage and build Christian relationships that transform your congregation and your community.

The authors, Jay and Dave, developed the art of neighboring in response to their local government officials challenge to improve their cities’ neighborhoods. This resource offers a practical framework to take the Great Commandment seriously. It guides groups to move beyond the obstacles of time and fear so that you take the necessary baby steps to move from stranger to acquaintance to relationship. It also illustrates how to develop the art of neighboring through receiving, setting boundaries, focusing, and forgiving. They have experienced first-hand the power of working together to create a movement of good neighboring which has transformed neighborhoods and cities.

The laity and clergy leaders in the Blount West Missional Hub are accepting the challenge to take seriously and put into action The Great Commandment. They are reading the book together; discussing the small group video sessions (www.artofneighboring.com); sharing personal stories of neighboring; and exploring ways that their hub can fully commit to building relationships and loving neighbors in the Blount West communities. The plan is to lead the study in early 2020, using the sermon series and interactive small group study, in their respective churches. As they work together the prayer and hope is to build vital, loving relationships in their communities; listen and discover their neighbor’s needs; receive the gifts of one another; and together transform their communities.

In recent discussions, the missional hub leaders have begun to identify their neighbors – for most of the group connecting with their actual neighbors – those that live on each side, in front, and in back of us. For others, neighbors are those they see at work but rarely interact or get involved with their lives. The team confessed that for most of us there might be one or two neighbors we know really well but there are other neighbors that we barely know their name – often times just saying “hello” or waving – much less knowing and connecting with their story. We also shared ways that we could make time to get to really know and interact with our neighbors whether that is playing on a community-wide sport team rather than another league, participating in a community event or being an active member in a neighborhood group, or even connecting electronically through a neighborhood Facebook page or www.nextdoor.com. We have pondered - what might happen if we knew one another’s story, listened to each other’s concerns, or took the time to care for one another? In the weeks and months ahead, the group will continue to discover the art of neighboring and put into practice the steps to build relationships with their neighbors.

Reverend Susan Groseclose, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries, is participating with the Blount West Missional Hub and documenting their work together. As your missional hub plans and implements their work, she is available to answer questions or assist. Please contact her at susangroseclose@holston.org or 865-690-4080.

Author

Susan Groseclose