It's All About Love

Discipleship starts with the great commandment: 

Matthew 22:37–39 (ESV): 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

When we kicked off 2019, Rev Ken reminded us of this commandment as the fundamental of disciple formation and challenged us to always strive to relate to each other and those we will meet as "neighbors" – regardless of walks in life or geographical roots. He introduced RethinkChurch and #SeeAllThePeople discipleship platform as guidelines. Learn more in the Feb 2019 edition of the newsletter.

Who is Our Neighbor?

The concept of neighbor has evolved over the ages. In the beginning is was connected to geography: those in close proximity or perhaps those you already know, were related to, and may already have a close relationship and consider a "friend". If you think of the latter, what's not to love? "Love thy neighbor." is easy.

In modern times, the idea of "neighbor" has taken on a much broader context. In today's world it means any one or more persons you may encounter. Those in close proximity to the church have a distinct practical advantage in becoming connected and perhaps ultimately interested in joining Prospect's community of disciples and church family.

Building Authentic Relationships

Love your neighbor AS yourself. What does "AS yourself" really mean? At first read, the logical and perhaps popular interpretation may be "as you love yourself". But that is not what the scripture says.

Consider this alternative interpretation to mean "being yourself". We build authentic and impactful relationships based on the essence of who we are as individuals that God made us to be, our relationship with Jesus Christ and with each other.

Consider this possibility: “We become fully ourselves AS we love our neighbors.”

Small Group and Relationships

“Churches grow and thrive when people are growing in meaningful relationships.”

Beyond the individual relationship, Small Group ministries have been proven to be the most effective way to build up relationships as meaningful and “missional communities”.

“A missional community is a group of people, about the size of an extended family, who are united through Christian community around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. These also become life support groups for those involved. We are reminded that this is why there of so many ‘neighborhood’ churches. The church was to be the ministry in the community.”

Differences are Important

Differences in God's children — perspective, personalities, preferences, gifts, instincts, skills, talents — are normal and necessary as a source for new ideas and approaches to keep the church energized, compelling, relevant, and moving forward.

Differences are also how we complement each other in the body of Christ; one person's weakness is another person's strength. Simply getting to know each other is the best way to fully appreciate each other for who we are, respect differences, and be unified in Christian love of neighbor.

How a church body embraces differences and handles conflict when it arises is a recurring theme among church improvement resources that is perhaps the most telling sign of a healthy and vibrant church – or not. It can be the fuel for the church to thrive or, it can cause the church to divide and decline.

To excel together — taking full advantages of both similarities and differences — as the body of Christ is a fundamental component of Stewardship that ultimately seeds a dynamic volunteer and laity community.

About This Page

Portions of the content on the page were sourced from material provided with the Authentic Relationships workshop led by Phil Maynard of emc3coaching.com, author of several books on church excellence and vitality.

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