We often see the best stories as the biggest. Stories of big ideas that change the world. But as Nick Arnold shared with us earlier this week…
Generally Millennials want to address problems in our world with big ideas, expecting big results…and fast. And you need to be the public face of this idea so everyone knows you are amazing. Plus, make sure you do it before you are thirty.
The truth is, this way of operating leads many of us jumping from idea to idea. As soon as it becomes apparent we won’t become an overnight success, it’s time to move on to the next idea.
(Warning: spoiler alert below from Stop Trying To Change The World)
Thus, we learned starting slow and making small steps may actually lead toward larger and more sustainable change.
This week I’d like to piggy back on a changing the world idea with a guest post from my friend Dave Runyon. He actually stole the idea from Jesus, but whatever, we’ll give him credit for the guest post (edited by yours truly).
So You Want to Change the World? Here’s How.
Many of us have a heart to see our world function differently. We see wars, poverty, disease, injustice, and we’re not ok with it.
- But what if the answer to our world’s biggest problems was actually a lot simpler than finding a new cause to champion?
- What if Jesus gave us a strategic blueprint to change the world overnight?
- And what if all it took to change the world was inviting a few people over, putting out some lawn chairs, and cracking open a couple brews?
The only problem with this master plan is the people who claim to follow Jesus – don’t even know the family living next door. And let’s be honest, it’s going to be hard to end world poverty today, if we don’t even know our neighbor’s name across the street.
After nine years as a teaching pastor, I came face to face with the fact that while I was doing a decent job of caring for a lot of people in my church, I wasn’t doing a very good job of even remembering my neighbor’s names. Church felt like we spent the majority of time putting on an event that didn’t seem to produce the kind of life change we were hoping to see.
I began to believe maybe the Church doesn’t need another weekend program or special Sunday event.
Four years ago God used the mayor of my city to convict me I wasn’t taking the great commandment seriously. From the cities perspective, “there isn’t a noticeable difference in how Christians and non-Christians neighbor in our community. The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.”
That’s where you come in.
Turns out Jesus model for relationship may prove to be more effective than the next government program or church retreat. There’s nothing more grassroots or local than building relationships with people where you live. The outline is genius, organic, and ongoing.
Here’s the entire law summed up by Jesus. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Imagine that. We could change the world, if only every person who believes in Jesus would actually do it.
If we aren’t careful, we can take the most important teaching of Jesus and turn it into a catchy slogan or bumper sticker. And in doing so, we become immune to its impact on our lives and the lives of others.
The idea is – by becoming good neighbors, we become who we’re supposed to be. As a result, our communities become places that God intended them to be. Since then, I’ve been part of neighboring movement that encourages Christians to learn the names of their neighbors and throw some great parties in the process. And it’s changing neighborhoods around America overnight.
When neighbors are in relationship with one another, the elderly shut-in gets cared for by the person next door, the at-risk kid gets mentored by a dad who lives on the block, and watching the neighbors kid becomes second nature.
Tools To Get Your Started
Actually, there isn’t a simple tool that can move you into relationships, because it is impossible to program relationships. All of us can, however, create environments where relationships might develop and grow.
Though I have learned a good block party can get the ball rolling. Maybe this is one reason Jesus spent so much time attending parties. He calls us His beloved and tells us we are going to attend a wedding feast.
Meaning – Jesus is for relationship, and is going to throw a sweet shindig. So instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining that the music catty-corner us is too loud, Christians should be a playing a part in throwing some of the best parties in our neighborhood.
The world around us is lonelier than we know, so it’s good to have your radar up, purposefully looking for ways to engage with people who live close to you. One of the easiest things to do is eat together. “You’re eating. We’re eating. Let’s eat together.” It doesn’t require taking another class or going to another conference or sitting through another seminar.
All it requires is that you take a step back, think about things that you already love, and invite your neighbors to join in.
No Small Print
There is no hidden agenda here. No small print at the end of a large contract. This isn’t an evangelism strategy to track bomb your neighbors or pull out the EvangeCube while mowing the lawn.
And if evangelism is your only motive, then you won’t be a very good neighbor.
The agenda we need to drop is the well-meaning tendency to be friends with people for the sole purpose of converting them to our faith. Many so desperately want to move people forward spiritually that they push them according to their timetable, not according to how God is working in them. It’s tempting to offer friendship with strings attached.
The Great Commandment says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The commandment ends there, with no other expectations given. Thus, good neighboring is an end in itself.
Conversely, if you find that you aren’t talking about Jesus with those around you, perhaps you don’t have a very good relationship with those people. Or it might mean you don’t have a very deep relationship with Jesus. Or perhaps you are simply afraid of how you will be perceived. But remember your best relationships were never forced. You shared stories with one another.
And when God has an imprint on your story, it won’t feel like a car dealer’s sales pitch, rather a powerful demonstration of God’s activity in your life.
The beauty in the art of neighboring is that it’s simple and genuine. You don’t need to memorize pitches or chart out a master plan for evangelizing your neighborhood. You don’t even need to worry about having a canned speech in your back pocket.
So you want to change the world? Start here. Dust off the grill. Dig a horseshoes pit. Love God, love your neighbors, and then watch miracles explode in your face.
To check out resources on how to throw a great block party and other community minded goodness, head here: