Pastoring Your Cul-de-Sac: Samaritan Living

Author Reggie McNeal invites us to get off our ass (biblically speaking) with a focus on the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

 

We’re living in a bizarre polarity of unprecedented connectedness and unparalleled isolation.

When we finally get home, joining countless others in our cul-de-sacs or subdivision streets, we want to be home.

The Great Commission may carry you to the ends of the world, but it starts on your street. God has given us a perfect environment for demonstrating the gospel and advancing His mission, if only we would open our eyes to it. It’s that place you probably consider your personal and private fortress – your home. Hospitality is one of the simplest – and most exciting – ways to engage in God’s mission.

If we are ever going to join all our lives to God’s mission to change the world, we need to reclaim all of our ordinary pieces as a part of that gospel mission. We have to reject the notion that something has to be big or unusual to be significant. We will have to view the ordinariness of our lives as significant, and allow God to use our homes as a seed to be planted and grown, not something to be discarded or devalued.

We need to practice neighboring.

Just who is our neighbor? And, how can we serve our neighbors?

SOLUTION #1: Practice the three actions of the Good Samaritan

THE QUICK SUMMARY

There was a time when neighbors knew each other’s names, when small children and the old and infirm alike had more than their families looking out for them. There was a time when our neighborhoods were our closest communities.

No more. Neighborhoods have become the place where nobody knows your name. Into this neighborhood crisis the words of Jesus still ring true: Second only to the command to love God is the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Next Door as It Is in Heaven, Lance Ford and Brad Brisco offer first principles and best practices to make our neighborhoods into places where compassion and care are once again part of the culture, where good news is once again more than words, and where the love of God can be once again rooted and established.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

After the attention-getting quote by Reggie McNeal noted above, he continues:

“I don’t know what business you are in (education, the social sector, for-profit enterprise, health care, etc.), but ultimately you want to be in the people business. Helping people is the best part of life! If you don’t discover this truth and act on it, not only will your “neighbors’’ needs go unmet, but you will never be whole.”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a call to action, not just a great story.

If anyone should “neighbor” differently, it should be us. So let’s do it. Let us love our neighborhoods as ourselves.

As followers of Jesus, we can’t afford to miss the point in the parable usually named “The Good Samaritan.” We believe we would better understand Jesus’ point if, we called it “the parable of the good neighbor.” The Samaritan – the one who proved to be a real neighbor – demonstrates several important traits we can learn from.

Nearing – All three of the players in Jesus’ story “saw” the man who was in distress. All three of the guys were busy. They were on a journey. They had things to do, people to see. But there was a difference in the three. Two people saw and went on. One person saw and went to.

It’s so much easier to just “pass over to the other side.” What we thought we saw or heard may not be the case. It could just be our imagination. That conversation I overheard between one of my kids and her playmate from down the street may have sounded like her family is struggling with finances, but I may have misunderstood. Then again, little Carly does seem to eagerly accept every offer for a chance or to stay for dinner.

I will never know the answer unless, like the Good Samaritan, I go to the person.

Caring – The real neighbor in Jesus’ story begins to attend to the wounds he discovers. Not only does he offer his own immediate resources, he seeks the assistance of others nearby. The Samaritan needed to continue his journey. But he didn’t just leave the man behind. He asked the innkeeper to take care of the fallen man.

Think about that. Our aim must be higher than just to be a good neighbor ourselves. The goal is to create a neighborhood of good neighbors whereby our collective gifts, talents, resources, and caring heart of many neighbors join forces when needs arise.

Sharing – Finally, look back and see what this neighboring example set in motion. Before we get the parable of the real neighbor, we get the great commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” Heart. Soul. Strength. Mind.

Jesus is talking about our passion and being. What do you care deeply about? What do you love to do? What are you skilled at and knowledgeable about? Jesus says, “Love God with all of that!” And then he says, “Make it tangible by loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Lance Ford and Brad Brisco, Next Door as it is in Heaven

A NEXT STEP

For our friends, it’s easy for us to share what we have and know. But Jesus takes it to an entirely different level. He defines real neighbors as those who are willing to do so with strangers – and not just strangers because they’ve never met.

Authors Lance Ford and Brad Brisco provide some ideas for reflection and preparation in practicing the three actions of the Good Samaritan as noted above. Set aside some quiet time this week and follow the suggestions below.

  1. Immerse. Slowly read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 from at least five different Bible versions in order to hear differences in translations.
  2. Recognize your resources. Reflect on your own heart, soul, strength, and mind. Make a list of what you know and what you possess. What are you passionate about? Begin making a list that will help you to serve others and provide an example for your neighbors as they consider their own resources.
  3. Consider others. Think about your neighbors. Who might be interested in joining you in making your neighborhood the best it has ever been?
  4. Pray. Begin praying for your neighborhood each day, that it becomes a place that experiences the peace and blessings of the Lord and the revelation of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 88-1, released March 2018.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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This Could Change Everything in Your Church Hospitality

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word hospitality? For most people, images emerge of entertaining around meals or inviting friends into our homes for a night of fun and games. Now let’s be clear. There is nothing wrong with sharing a meal with friends and family. Genuine, biblical hospitality, however, is much more than entertaining.

One simple distinction between biblical hospitality and entertaining is that the latter puts the focus on the host. In doing so, it can actually become an issue of pride. As the host, we are concerned what others will think about our home. We wonder, how will our home reflect on us? There is a desire to impress our guests. We want them to like us and the place we live. We worry about making everything just right. If our home isn’t perfectly clean and decorated, how can we possibly entertain guests? This sort of hospitality can easily become more about appearances than persons.

With biblical hospitality, the focus is not on us as hosts. Instead, it is on our guest. Our concern is not on the appearance of our home, but on the needs and concerns of those invited into our homes. What do we have to learn from our guests? What do they have to share? What needs do our guests bring with them that we can address? What promise are they carrying with them that we need to receive? What about our guest can we celebrate during our time together? Soon, we discover the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial. Our differences evaporate into a mutual sense of being included.

Scripture gives further clarity on the concept of hospitality, as well as its crucial importance. The Bible holds hospitality—especially toward strangers—in high regard. The laws prescribing holiness in the book of Leviticus include reference to hospitality:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).

We are not only to do no wrong to those outside of our community; we are to actively love the “foreigner” as we love ourselves. In this passage, the better translation of “as yourself” (kamocha) is “for he is like you.” We, too, were aliens once—outside the community—yet God treated us as native-born. The point is reiterated in Deuteronomy 10:19: “… you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

In the New Testament, the Greek word for “hospitality” is the word philoxenia, which is a combination of two words: love (phileo) and the word for stranger (xenos). It literally means “love of stranger.”

Another aspect of hospitality is important to note. It is not just for the benefit of the other. There is also something extraordinary that is gained when we receive the stranger.

When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed,because they cannot repay you (Luke 14:12-14, ESV).

The practice of biblical hospitality is unique because it reaches out to those who cannot reciprocate. In most cases, when we invite friends into our homes for dinner, there is an expectation that they will return the “favor” and have us into their home. But the point of this passage is that customary “pay back” hospitality is of no great merit to God. The very best hospitality is that which is bestowed, not exchanged.

Reflection Questions

1. Where do you have space in your home and in your life, that could be opened up to others? Do you have room in your heart to love and serve someone who is unwanted, unloved, and uncared for? Do you have room in your home to welcome someone, even temporarily?

2. Who in your neighborhood, your place of work or in the places you hang out is living a relationally impoverished life? How can you turn a stranger into a friend this week?

3. Besides welcoming people into our homes, in what other settings might we be more hospitable?

> Read more from Brad.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brad Brisco

Brad Brisco

I have an undergraduate degree in health care admin from Wichita State, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and a Doctorate of Ministry degree in the area of missional ecclesiology. My doctoral thesis was on assisting existing congregations in transitioning in a missional direction. I have been involved in church planting for over seventeen years and am currently the Director of Bivocational church planting for the North American Mission Board. I am co-founder of Forge Kansas City, a missional training center located in Kansas City and the Sentralized conference. I am co-author of Missional Essentials a 12 week group curriculum published by The House Studio, The Missional Quest a book with InterVarsity Press, and Next Door As It Is In Heaven, published by NavPress. Additionally, I enjoy working with existing congregations that desire to more deeply engage God’s mission in a local context. I have taught college level courses for more than ten years, including History of Christianity, Religion in America, Life of Paul, Discipleship and Evangelism and a course on Worship. My wife and I are parents to three children and have been foster parents to more than fifty other kids. You can contact me at brad.brisco@gmail.com

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Your Church Culture Must Change… Start Here

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. ~ Alvin Toffler

When bringing about change in the way people behave, we often need to start with questions of “why” before considering the practical issues of “how.” In the book Start with Why, author Simon Sinek contends that there are two primary ways to influence human behavior: you can either manipulate it or inspire it. While manipulation is not always negative (for example when a department store drops the price of a product to motivate a purchase), it often involves the use of fear or peer pressure to influence behavior. Additionally, change that is manipulated is usually short-lived. Inspiring change, on the other hand, involves the consideration of deeper issues. We need to ask underlying questions of “why.” Why do we perceive things in a particular way? Why do we behave in a certain manner? What are the motivations or inherent factors that undergird our behaviors?

In the book Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz makes a distinction between organizational change and cultural change. Attempts at organizational change typically involve restructuring of some type, along with the use of new programs, processes and techniques. Cultural change, however, looks at how to create a new culture or environment, which will in turn require a completely new set of skills and capacities.

The answer to the crisis of the church in North America will not be found by making minor adjustments in our ecclesiology–how we do church. Instead, the problem is much more deeply rooted. It has to do with the essence of who we are as the church and what we have been called to do. The real issues in the current crisis are primarily spiritual, theological and missiological. To plant disciple-making, missional-incarnational focused churches that have a mind-set of reproduction will take deep cultural change in the way we think about God’s mission and the nature of the church, as well as how the church engages in that mission in local contexts. We must change our attitude from “we have never done it that way before” to “whatever it takes.”

An adage that speaks to the importance of considering change in an organization goes like this: We are perfectly designed to achieve what we are currently achieving. Read that again. We are perfectly designed to achieve what we are currently achieving. If we make application of this statement to the church today, one of the questions we might ask would be: Are we satisfied with what we are currently achieving? In other words, are we content or pleased with the impact the church is having today? If we are totally honest, the answer would seem to be a resounding no. The fact is, regardless of what marker a person looks at to judge the health of the church in North America, every indicator is trending in the wrong direction. If we are perfectly designed to achieve what the church is currently achieving, then shouldn’t we ask if there is an issue in the way we are designed? Or at least question if there is an issue in the way we understand the nature of the church and its place in God’s mission? Do we need to reconsider the way we think about church planting? Are there “design” factors that we need to rethink to achieve the outcomes we desire?

The strategies and techniques that fit previous eras of church history don’t seem to work any longer. What we need now is a new set of tools. We need a new vision of reality, a new paradigm—a fundamental change in our thinking that leads to a fundamental change in our behavior, especially as it relates to our understanding of the church, mission, discipleship and church planting.

Read more from Brad.


 

Learn more about bringing about cultural change at your church – connect with an Auxano Navigator today!

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Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brad Brisco

Brad Brisco

I have an undergraduate degree in health care admin from Wichita State, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and a Doctorate of Ministry degree in the area of missional ecclesiology. My doctoral thesis was on assisting existing congregations in transitioning in a missional direction. I have been involved in church planting for over seventeen years and am currently the Director of Bivocational church planting for the North American Mission Board. I am co-founder of Forge Kansas City, a missional training center located in Kansas City and the Sentralized conference. I am co-author of Missional Essentials a 12 week group curriculum published by The House Studio, The Missional Quest a book with InterVarsity Press, and Next Door As It Is In Heaven, published by NavPress. Additionally, I enjoy working with existing congregations that desire to more deeply engage God’s mission in a local context. I have taught college level courses for more than ten years, including History of Christianity, Religion in America, Life of Paul, Discipleship and Evangelism and a course on Worship. My wife and I are parents to three children and have been foster parents to more than fifty other kids. You can contact me at brad.brisco@gmail.com

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.