A Q&A with co-authors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
In the first chapter of the book you talk about a moment when you realized the churches in your community weren’t living out the second part of the Great Commandment—loving our neighbors. Tell us about that.
We invited our assistant city manager to speak with us as a group of pastors, and one of the things she said stopped us in our tracks:
“From the city’s perspective there’s not a noticeable difference in how Christians and non-Christians relate to their actual neighbors.”
We had been looking for an initiative to take on as pastors, and that’s when we knew we had it. We needed to take the Great Commandment seriously and literally, starting with our actual geographic neighbors.
What can Christians do to start being good neighbors?
Many of us use our backyards as our primary outdoor space and as a result we have less interaction with our neighbors. We can start with the small step by moving to the front yard so we can be visible to our neighbors who surround us.
What are some of the obstacles to overcome when moving from stranger to an acquaintance to a relationship?
One obstacle is learning and retaining the names of our neighbors. It makes a big difference if you can say “Hey, Joe” instead of “Hey, Bro.”
In what way are our motives in neighboring important?
To truly love people we need to stop believing we’re only to be kind to people in order to share our faith. We’re called to be kind to people because we are converted, not in order to convert them.
If you truly love Jesus and you seek to love your neighbors, you will end up talking about Jesus. If you don’t talk about Jesus, you might want to ask yourself why that is the case. Either you don’t have a relationship with Jesus that naturally flows out into your life, or you don’t love those around you enough to share the deepest parts of your life.
Let’s be clear: The Art of Neighboring isn’t an evangelism strategy. However, when Christians do this, people begin to follow Jesus all around them.
Excerpted from an interview at EdStetzer.com.
The Art of Neighboring is published by Baker Books. Click here for more details.