On Tuesday the police sealed off the entrance to our neighborhood. To get home we had to go in the back way (one way). The neighbor who “knows it all” informed us what had happened. The man who lived two houses over from ours had died. He lived alone and kept mostly to himself. His brother who lives 15 miles away hadn’t heard from him and ended up breaking into his house before finding him. He’s been gone for a week.
I come home every night and park my car in front of his house. Not that there was anything I could do, but I was completely unaware that just 40 feet away from me was a dead man. I haven’t heard cause of death yet, but imagine if his death hadn’t been instant. I don’t like to even imagine me walking by his house and there WAS something I could have done.
Why didn’t I know my neighbor was dead? I never knocked on his door. I didn’t even know him. Now I’m only here temporarily and I’m currently working from 9-7 6 days a week, so I don’t know many people and haven’t had much opportunity to do so. But I lived in my last house for 3 years and I knew the names of 3 people in my neighborhood (not including the people who attended my church). I lived in a neighborhood of 3,000 homes. Pathetic, huh?
I’m reading a book that is challenging the way I’ve lived. I’ve been so involved at church and leading that ministry that I completely neglect my neighbors. Many of them knew I was a pastor. What impression did I give those who were unchurched? Probably not a great one. The unchurched couldn’t give a rip that I’m leading ministry excellence at that big monstrosity of a church on the hill. If anything, they resent it. Good luck trying to drive past on Sunday morning at noon, you’ll end up waiting in all the traffic. If I would spend a little less time leading ministry at my church, I might make a bigger impact on my street.
This has really been challenging me. This doesn’t devalue what I do at the church at all. As Bill Hybels said, “The local church is the hope of the world.” But Jesus didn’t just sit in the synagogue every day and wait for the community to come to him. He was actively in the community seeking those who were lost. The pastor of the church Sara and I have been attending spoke to this on Sunday. He said that if we’re too busy to minister to those around us in our community, then we’re doing too much and we need to change our schedule. He makes sure his staff has enough time for ministry, family time and opportunities to volunteer in the community.
Just something to think about…
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