Here’s a small excerpt from my reading recently that lept off the page at me. It is so so so so obvious upon reflection, but that’s the importance of wisdom, right? That it makes clear what has been hidden through ignorance or through intentional avoidance? Church is about building God’s kingdom on earth, and that begins where we live and primarily gather. Do we know our neighborhood? People’s names? Ethnic health or distrust? Lifestyle challenges?
We must first go beyond the idea of neighborhood ministry which can keep us “safe” from messy relationships and embrace the practical realities of needing to know our neighborhood in order to truly be church where we are.
“Effective ministry is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of the communities where we live and serve. Learning about a community occurs through a variety of means and represents an ongoing process. Foremost, it must begin with bonding ourselves to the community where we will be ministering. As Manny Ortiz writes, ‘Bonding may be a strange term for many of us, but it is an extremely important concept for learning the urban context…The best analogy to describe this process is that of a child being born and entering a new environment, a new culture, with new experiences, smells, and sights.’ Incarnation, sharing the world of our neighbors, calling where we live home, must be the guiding strategy to shaping a ministry agenda.”
– Mark Gornik, Noel Castellanos Restoring At-Risk Communities pg 220 –