The Art of Neighboring

by Doug Scalise on June 5, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last week Mamdouh and I had a long breakfast together, getting to know one another better and talking about what the Lord is doing.

I shared about a new emphasis we’ve just begun at BBC that maybe some of you have already heard of called The Art of Neighboring. Mamdouh asked me to share about it with all of you.

I first heard about this movement at the Vision New England’s GO Conference this past February in Springfield (which was excellent, by the way, I strongly encourage you to consider attending in 2020).

Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon, co-authors of the book The Art of Neighboring – Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, spoke about The Art of Neighboring. Briefly, in 2009, a group of 20 lead pastors in the Denver, Colorado area gathered to think, dream, and pray about how they might join forces to serve their community. They invited the local mayor, Bob Frie, and asked him how they churches could best serve the city. After a discussion of a number of pressing issues, the mayor replied, “The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” In other words, the mayor invited a roomful of pastors to get their people to actually obey what Jesus says in Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jay and Dave shared a chart that looks like a Tic Tac Toe grid with the image of a house in the center. They called this humorously “the card of shame.” They asked themselves and their church members to identify by name their 8 closest physical neighbors. Less than 10% of people they survey can do so. How many of your eight closest neighbors do you know by name? How many do you know anything about? How many do you have an awareness of their deeper needs, challenges, hopes, and dreams? They write in their book, “We all have a need for genuine community, and nothing beats the frequency, availability, and spontaneity of connecting deeply with those who live nearby.” The command to love our neighbors lies at the core of God’s plan for our lives. Yet the reality is, that the majority of Christians don’t even know the names of most of their closest neighbors.

At Brewster Baptist Church, we’re committing to trying to change this and I invite you to check out The Art of Neighboring website and to consider getting a copy of the book and reading it for yourself.

We’ve just started this journey at BBC this past Sunday and we’ll be focusing on it in worship throughout the month of June to get it launched, but hopefully and prayerfully we will stick with it for the long haul.

I asked our church on Sunday: what kind of difference would it make to individuals, neighborhoods, communities, and our nation, if every single Christ follower in this country, committed themselves to getting to know their eight closest neighbors and simply sought to love them as Jesus urges us to do. It would transform the country.

I’d be happy to talk with anyone who’d like to discuss this further, what could the Lord do on Cape Cod if Christians from Falmouth to Provincetown committed ourselves to loving our actual neighbors who are right next door to us?

Thanks for reading.

Grace and Peace,

Doug Scalise

Brewster Baptist Church