A few years ago my good friend, Dave Runyon began asking the question, “What if, when Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor’ he literally meant ‘Love your neighbor,’ your actual, physical neighbor?” This question was spawned after inviting the mayor of his city to speak to the pastors of the city. After outlining a litany of the city’s problems, the mayor said something like, “It occurred to me that if we just loved our neighbors as ourselves, most all of our problems would go away. We need to be a city of good neighbors. ” It was an “aha” moment for Dave and the pastors of Arvada. The idea took wings, and he and Jay Pathak, another pastor in town began infusing their conversations about neighboring. They drew up a diagram and asked if folks could write down the names of the 8 neighbors around them—the “near ones.” Of the thousands of folks they asked this question to, there were only a handful of folks who could do so. We can hardly love those we don’t know.
But they found that Christ-followers want to be good neighbors. They want to love…they want to make a difference. Thousands of people began to identify themselves as those wanting to be good neighbors around the city (see http://artofneighboring.com/denver-map?view=application). The movement is spreading to other cities around the US and I imagine the world will follow.
Dave and Jay decided to tell their story in a book, appropriately called, The Art of Neighboring (Baker 2102). It is the next logical step in externally focused ministry and city transformation. Check it out at http://amzn.to/YfDxzK