At a gathering of church leaders in July 2017, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said the greatest gift churches can give our city is to simply be good neighbors. Can you believe that? For all the services, programs, events, classes, and mission trips churches do in the name of Jesus, our Mayor said if we just loved our neighbors — the one priority Jesus commanded His followers to do after loving God — then Christians could transform Evansville.
And the faith community of Evansville has the capacity to do it too! 83% of Evansville residents identify as Christians – 49% as practicing and 25% as highly engaged. Even if only the highly engaged group actively pursued the Great Commandment and loved the eight neighbors physically around their home, the love of Jesus would completely cover the population of Evansville.
So why is Jesus’ clear command not executed? It fills an important need for our city, and it clearly aligns with God’s will for His people. Where is the disconnect?
The solution must be complex, or we’d have neighboring revolutions all over the place. At Community One, we reduce the complexity of community engagement and mobilize churches into this critical area of mission. The simplest expression of our purpose has always been to love your neighbor. Through restoration of deteriorating housing, and now revitalizing under resourced neighborhoods, the core of what we do has always been creating an opportunity for followers of Jesus to live out the Great Commandment in a real, tangible way. And to ultimately see restoration and hope come into the lives of real people in our community.
As we train, equip, resource, and send the Church into neighboring, the first step is to clearly define neighboring opportunities available to us. Then, give you a next step if you are interested in pursuing it further. We believe neighboring includes two distinct possibilities:
- Neighbor Where You Are – Everyone has neighbors they interact with everyday. This includes co-workers, strangers we pass, and friends we interact with. It also includes our neighbors in physical proximity to our homes. What would it look like to reorient how you view your neighborhood and home? It is more than a place of refuge; it is a launching pad for missional engagement. What would it look like for you to step into obedience and love your actual neighbors? For many of us, this is an anxiety-inducing idea. However, it is also the simplest way to infuse your everyday life with meaning and purpose – to live out your faith in ways we long for as Christians. We can all do this now! We can neighbor where we are today.
- Neighbor Where We’re Called – God clearly calls His people to care for the marginalized of society throughout the Bible. People who, because of various cultural factors, are deemed “the least of these.” Jesus modeled this with His life and His ministry. There are neighborhoods in our city – full of people – that face significant challenges to experiencing a high quality of life. These areas need restoration and renewed hope. They need the love of God to light up their neighborhood, and they need the Church to answer the call and love them as they love themselves.
If Neighboring Where You Are or Neighboring Where We’re Called resonates with you as an individual, a small group, or a church leader, then simply contact us to talk about your unique next step in loving your neighbor.