I heard of a Christian group that formed on a college campus. 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 pastor 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 pastor 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 pastor, 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 the people in our own neighborhoods or people we meet in our lives that don’t already have an important place in our circle.
I think that because Jerome, Clarkdale and Cottonwood are smaller we may feel that we know all our neighbors and know them well. But maybe we should check. See how many of our acquaintances we truly know and maybe we can invite them to church! Wouldn’t that be something?
Janet and Michael