“Be the Best Neighbor” is one of six essential strategies that will help young people discover and love your church. Makota Fujimura, writer, artist, and director of Fuller Seminary’s Brehm Center for worship says, “An emphasis on our role as neighbor as part of our identity reminds us of our shared cultural and geographical spaces and the fact that proximity brings responsibility. Even apart from Jesus’ call to love our neighbor, we know that our common flourishing depends on one another."
The Best Neighbors ask, “Who is my Neighbor?” Asking the question helps ground young people’s response to the needs and culture around them in more than self-congratulatory benevolence. Churches striving to be the best neighbor reflect selfless mercy toward the people outside their congregations – whether those neighbors are friends, stranger, or enemies. They demonstrate compassion and forgiveness and practice this mercy in service and social justice efforts, in their political engagement, in discussions about race and ethnic identity, and in response to pop culture. Doing so earns these churches a hearing in a culture that often otherwise dismisses them as judgmental or close minded.
This Wednesday, you will be meeting Emily, a college student from Minnesota, and Hope, a high school youth from Chicago, who are actively engaged in their neighborhoods. Given the pain and brokenness around us, there are times when evil needs to be called out, challenged, and overcome. You’ll hear these young people's stories of the work they are doing because of their church.
As you prepare for our Growing Young coaching session this month, ask yourself, "Who is my neighbor? And how am I or my congregation intentionally training young people to be the best neighbors?"