Photo by Juan Rojas
By Steve Matthews, FaithX Senior Missional Consultant
FaithX exists to provide resources including cutting-edge data, robust vitality/ sustainability metrics, and energetic and informed consulting, and we offer this in the hopes of nurturing strong communities! I am proud and happy to be part of this team.
What we can’t do is see what you see in your community. We can’t hear what you hear. We can’t smell or taste the food from the local restaurants (though we always welcome invitations). We don’t walk the streets of your neighborhoods greeting gardeners, utility workers, shop owners. The work of neighboring is yours.
“Neighboring” – sounds inviting and easy, right? Yet when working with faith communities, I am always surprised by how hard it is to coach people into their neighborhoods. We seem to like the idea of being neighbors, but actually getting out into the streets of our communities with an intention of perhaps starting a conversation or even being curious about what we might find, this is a challenge for many people. It somehow seems that we have lost our spirit of curiosity or exploration or discovery when it comes to our communities. Oddly enough when I was looking online for a photo and searched for “discovery “and “curiosity,” almost all of the photos were of children. It’s like we’ve forgotten this integral part of ourselves on our way to adulthood.
My friend and colleague, DeAmon Harges, emphasizes the importance of “discoverables” when engaging life. Not everything is about what we accomplish (aka “deliverables”). DeAmon encourages people and communities to pay attention to what they are noticing, experiencing, and learning. It’s a practice of discovery and curiosity that often leads to profound relationships, connections, and possibility.
At FaithX we can provide tools and services to you and your faith community, but the gift of neighboring is yours. What’s keeping you? Engage your spirit and curiosity. Take a walk (or three) and see what/whom YOU discover! Here’s a poem for the journey:
Where I’m from, people still wave
to each other, and if someone doesn’t,
you might say of her, She wouldn’t
wave at you to save her life—
but you try anyway, give her a smile.
This is just one of the many ways
we take care of one another, say: I see you,
I feel you, I know you are real. I wave
to Rick who picks up litter while walking
his black labs, Olive and Basil—
hauling donut boxes, cigarette packs
and countless beer cans out of the brush
beside the road. And I say hello
to Christy, who leaves almond croissants
in our mailbox and mason jars of fresh-
pressed apple cider on our side porch.
I stop to check in on my mother-in-law—
more like a second mother—who buys us
toothpaste when it’s on sale, and calls
if an unfamiliar car is parked at our house.
We are going to have to return to this
way of life, this giving without expectation,
this loving without conditions. We need
to stand eye to eye again, and keep asking—
no matter how busy—How are you,
how’s your wife, how’s your knee?, making
this talk we insist on calling small,
though kindness is what keeps us alive.