Have you ever thought about how important it is to learn people’s stories you have constant interaction with? This is a question I have been thinking about as I have just spent this whole morning listening to leaders at The Justice Conference talk about neighborliness, concern for community institutions (such as schools, health, social services, and etc.), and acting creatively together. The people you need to get to know better could be your neighbors, people in your church, and maybe even the barista at your local coffee shop.
I think one of my favorite parts of working at Glenfair Church has been getting to know the children and adults that participate in worship and fellowship together. We have had community and family events where people of different ages have come together to share their concerns, stories, and desserts. This is important so that we can know what people are facing as individuals and the community. My whole mission is “Connecting kids to God’s story and real relationships.” The emphasis on the truth being that we need to learn God’s story (the Bible) but we also have to help them understand they are living out his story in their own lives by how they respond in the way they do his truth. Real relationships function as a way to partner with people for overall wellness in their social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual life. For example, I make real relationships with people in our community when I go tutor kids at the local school, encourage kids to eat healthier when they talk about how they don’t like fruits and vegetables, help people work together so that we can learn to care for one another better, and telling people how a relationship with Jesus effects all parts of our lives. I learn different aspects of people’s stories in these contexts.
Leroy Barber, of Word Made Flesh, asked “What does it mean to be a neighbor?” In his experience, it has meant sharing spaces, stories, and time that make effective ministry and sustainable change to work towards the common good. I know that as I learn more about sharing God’s heart of love and justice towards those I love in my community will bring a lasting impact so that we can experience the abundant life of purposeful living, joy, and relationships based in Christ’s incarnation, reconciliation, and renewal together.
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