Be the best neighbours: instead of condemning the world outside your walls, enable young people to neighbour well locally and globally.
Part 7 of 7 Series on ‘Growing the Church Young‘
Christianity is about the restoration of how it is all supposed to be. We have been given hope, we have been redeemed, and we have been empowered by the authority of God to go out and change this world. – Isaiah, age 20. (p 234)
What does it mean to be a good neighbour?
To hear that question, it is often very easy to think about what ‘the neighbour should be doing’ to/for you. But what about you? What five characteristics would you see within yourself that your neighbour could use to describe you? And what five characteristics could be used to describe your church?
Most young people want to make a difference. Most young people want to change the world! Churches that grow young are churches that understand this… and work toward respecting the journey that neighbours are on, as well as look for ways to neighbour well!
It is important to hear that. Churches that grow young recognise that they are involved in a dance that values both fidelity to the Scriptures as well as being gracious to the people around them. The apostle Paul modelled that dance when he spoke to the Greeks at Mars Hill.
Powell, Mulder and Griffin note,
“Our culture is changing at what feels like an exponential rate, and it’s difficult for most of us to keep up. A quick skim of young people’s social media accounts is all it takes to reveal that their approaches to cultural issues may be a little different from, or even completely opposed to, those of older congregants… While there are no quick answers, (it is important to) view these differences through the lenses already shared about empathising with today’s young people and fuelling a warm community” (p 239).
To reflect on how Jesus engaged with some of the cultural issues in his time; the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the tax collector climbing the tree, the lepers, among many others, that call to empathy and community bides well. Perhaps the question we need to ask is not ‘what would Jesus do’, which turns Jesus into simply a good role model, but rather ‘what would Jesus have us do – in the power of His Spirit’ to be involved in the work of His creation.
To think about and discuss
- Reflect on the quote by Isaiah. What stands out for you?
- What are some positive and life-giving steps your congregation is taking to be the best neighbour both locally and globally?
- What five characteristics could your neighbour use to describe your church?
- How might seeing others through the lens of empathy and community warmth be a reflection of the good news? Share an example.
- What might help you to become more attuned to the cultural needs/expressions of your neighbours? How might grace speak into this?