Here we are, blessed with both a new year and decade to go with it. It’s strange to think that our generation is experiencing the “New 20’s”, perhaps with less glamour and style as our predecessors but with just as much promise. This is the time when resolutions are made with the intention of follow through, and why should we make them when our intentions are noble? I'll admit that I've broken my fair share of resolutions consistently since I was old enough to understand what I was getting into. However, the one resolution that I have never made is the promise to become a better neighbor. Perhaps I’ve avoided making it because I don’t want to break this resolution as I have with so many of them in the past. Still, our God constantly makes things new, for it is written in the Book of Isaiah:
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
Perhaps this is the year that I should do it? With my installation just around the corner, perhaps I can lean into things, not of my own understanding, but because God compels me to do so for no other reason than grace as my guiding post.
Being a "Good Neighbor" is but one of the may fruits given to us as a means of grace. It's a long and bumpy road far less traveled than that of blissful solitude. Still, the rewards are far greater if we listen to who God is calling us to be. Jesus teaches us that many will join the path but few will continue on the journey. In the meantime, here are a few tools that I learned from my time as a Mission Developer that have been helpful in understanding the art of neighboring.
5 Reasons Why People Might Leave Their Church Family
1. Relocation - Someone is unable to continue his or her services to the community because he or she has decided to move to a new location. Example: Phoebe, who lives in New York, got a better job offer in Hawaii.
2. Recuperation - Someone is unable to continue his or her services to the community because he or she wishes to retreat and recover. Example: Daryl, after years of hosting parties at his abode, decided to attend them at someone else’s house.
3. Avoidance - Someone is unable to continue his or her services to the community because he or she has withdrawn and cut off 2 Communication due to the way someone or something made them feel. Example: Starbucks stopped decorating their cups for Christmas, so now Jack buys his coffee at WaWa.
4. Dismissal - Someone is unable to continue his or her services to the community because he or she has acted in an appropriate manner, which has created an unsafe environment for others. Example: Harper was fired because she was arrested for peeing in public and a registered Sex Offender.
5. Death - Someone is unable to continue his or her services to the community because he or she has died. Example: Yoseph won the lottery and died the next day.
Sounds so dire!!! Still, God does not abandon us, even if it seems as though we have been wandering around in circles for the past 40 years.
5 Ways to Accompany As A Church Family
1. Mutually - All of us have gifts to support God’s mission. There is no mission to, only mission with and among.
2. Inclusively - We seek to build relationships across boundaries that exclude and divide.
3. Vulnerably - Just as Jesus became vulnerable to us; we open ourselves to others.
4. Empowering - We seek to identify and correct imbalances of power, which may mean recognizing and letting go of our own.
5. Sustain-ably - To ensure local ministries last a long time, we seek to embed mission in ongoing relationships and communities. It’s a little scary, but I’m excited to see what God has envisioned for our future together. Let’s do this!
In God's Abiding Love,
Pastor Jeniffer Tillman, MD