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Art of Neighboring

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Once upon a time, people knew their neighbors. They talked to them, had cook-outs with them, and went to church with them. In our time of unprecedented mobility and increasing isolationism, it's hard to make lasting connections with those who live right outside our front door. We have hundreds of "friends" through online social networking, but we often don't even know the Once upon a time, people knew their neighbors. They talked to them, had cook-outs with them, and went to church with them. In our time of unprecedented mobility and increasing isolationism, it's hard to make lasting connections with those who live right outside our front door. We have hundreds of "friends" through online social networking, but we often don't even know the full name of the person who lives right next door. This unique and inspiring book asks the question: What is the most loving thing I can do for the people who live on my street or in my apartment building? Through compelling true stories of lives impacted, the authors show readers how to create genuine friendships with the people who live in closest proximity to them. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this book perfect for small groups or individual study.


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Once upon a time, people knew their neighbors. They talked to them, had cook-outs with them, and went to church with them. In our time of unprecedented mobility and increasing isolationism, it's hard to make lasting connections with those who live right outside our front door. We have hundreds of "friends" through online social networking, but we often don't even know the Once upon a time, people knew their neighbors. They talked to them, had cook-outs with them, and went to church with them. In our time of unprecedented mobility and increasing isolationism, it's hard to make lasting connections with those who live right outside our front door. We have hundreds of "friends" through online social networking, but we often don't even know the full name of the person who lives right next door. This unique and inspiring book asks the question: What is the most loving thing I can do for the people who live on my street or in my apartment building? Through compelling true stories of lives impacted, the authors show readers how to create genuine friendships with the people who live in closest proximity to them. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this book perfect for small groups or individual study.

30 review for Art of Neighboring

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I may actually give this book about 3.5 stars. I appreciated the kick in the kiester. While the content was basically good and encouraging there were some pacing issues in the book that really kind of grated on my reading nerves. Also the over use of the term "lean in" -- I'm may or may not be a slightly jaded former full-time campus minister that is over buzz word ministry terms. Shoot me now. There are parts that are repetitive that could pare down the book a bit more making this an even more I may actually give this book about 3.5 stars. I appreciated the kick in the kiester. While the content was basically good and encouraging there were some pacing issues in the book that really kind of grated on my reading nerves. Also the over use of the term "lean in" -- I'm may or may not be a slightly jaded former full-time campus minister that is over buzz word ministry terms. Shoot me now. There are parts that are repetitive that could pare down the book a bit more making this an even more succinct book to encourage us to love our neighbors. While I have generally avoided "how to" books -- this one did not belabor the issue (too much) for hundreds of pages. I appreciated the encouraging stories, the block map challenge, practical and simple ways to move out and to love our neighbors. I think at time as believers we can try to get out of this by saying our family is our neighbor and we need to work on that. While that is true we still need to be looking to care for the other people that God has placed closest to us in proximity. This book brought some conviction and thoughts on how to move out of my comfort zone. This could be a quick read individually or could be done in a few weeks with a church group or bible study. Includes a study guide/leader questions in the back. Simple to lead for sure. Favorite line from book: "We do not love our neighbors to convert them; we love our neighbors because we are converted." Amen.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Craig Turnbull

    "What good things might happen if you truly got to know the people in your neighborhood and they got to know you?" That central idea drives this very helpful book by Pathak and Runyon. Whereas some books emphasize the theology of the practice of hospitality, The Art of Neighboring fills a much needed gap in Christian writing by providing the nuts and bolts of how you reach out to the community around you. Beginning with what the authors call a "block map" (that's the 3x3 diagram on the cover, with "What good things might happen if you truly got to know the people in your neighborhood and they got to know you?" That central idea drives this very helpful book by Pathak and Runyon. Whereas some books emphasize the theology of the practice of hospitality, The Art of Neighboring fills a much needed gap in Christian writing by providing the nuts and bolts of how you reach out to the community around you. Beginning with what the authors call a "block map" (that's the 3x3 diagram on the cover, with your house in the middle), they ask the reader to follow a mental exercise and answer three things in each box about your neighbors immediately adjacent to your house: (1) The names of your neighbors, (2) basic information about them that you can't know by looking at the outside of their house, and then (3) their worldview. It's a convicting exercise, and they claim that only about 10% of people can even answer the first question in all eight remaining boxes. Clearly there's room for improvement upon the Great Commandment's outworkings even in our immediate neighborhood. Conviction set, the book unfolds and answers common objections and helpful starters for reaching out to the communities nearest us with the message of Christ. Whether it's lack of time, a fear of the unknown, deciding on the first step, being able to receive, setting boundaries, or even learning to forgive, Pathak and Runyon answer them all. What I liked about the book was both its extreme practicality, and its emphasis that neighboring or being a part of one's community is actually just as much an act of Great Commandment obedience as it is a Great Commission obedience. In other words, I don't look to be in the lives of my neighbors just to 'win' them to Christ, and when they don't respond I move on. I also am intentionally neighborly because it's a loving thing to do and Christ calls me to this. Consider this quote: "We don't love our neighbors to convert them, we love them because we are converted." That message is so needed, and that message was worth the price of this helpful little book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Prince

    Although it’s theological content may not be deep, it’s pragmatics are extremely helpful. Good read on living missionally in your neighborhood. Read it like you watch a captivating documentary- soak it all up and let it inspire you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hyatt

    Really, can we all please just stop verb-ing our nouns? "Being a neighbor" was good enough for Jesus and Mr. Rogers, and neither of them need improved upon. This book is a lot - A LOT - of fluff and very little substance. It reads very much like the papers I throw together the night before they are due - take all the knowledge you're supposed to repeat, repeat it, switch it around, make it look like you digested it, get an A. Throw in key terms and buzz words. Repeat. You can fabricate the experi Really, can we all please just stop verb-ing our nouns? "Being a neighbor" was good enough for Jesus and Mr. Rogers, and neither of them need improved upon. This book is a lot - A LOT - of fluff and very little substance. It reads very much like the papers I throw together the night before they are due - take all the knowledge you're supposed to repeat, repeat it, switch it around, make it look like you digested it, get an A. Throw in key terms and buzz words. Repeat. You can fabricate the experience of actually processing the information. The book can be summed up pretty simply - get to know your neighbors. Which is fine advice. Polite, kind, decent. Biblical, probably. Except the Biblical bits of this book are just proof-texting, a few random anecdotes about Jesus thrown in here and there in order to prove a point. They aren't really exegeted at all, beyond "of course this is what it means." There's no attempt to shift from Jesus' culture to the culture of the typical white, middle class American neighborhood because we never leave it in the first place. After wading through buzzwords and cliches (the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!), the book also contradicts itself a lot. Stop being so busy, get to know your neighbors, but actually it's okay because all relationships have stopping points, and humans are legos, and ain't nobody got time for all this. The "reading list" looks like a compiled list of the most popular and trendy books on... well, everything, really, from the past five years or so. Kind of like a ministry conference table exploded. Unfortunately, these resources - some of them good, some of them overdone, but I'm not reviewing those - are basically better extrapolations of this book. There is nothing new here, no great insight, no new research tying any of these things together. Be a neighbor, Jesus is pretty smart after all LOL, be a story, be a party, Kid President Donald Miller what? I don't know either. Connect! Reach out! Lean in! Think different! Drop the buzzwords and say something of substance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    The book is well intentioned and does have some good practical advice for reaching out and establishing relationships with others in your neighborhood. But, much of the advice is common sense and he is often repetitive in the presentation. The book is conversational in tone and uses a lot of words repetitively like "leaning in," "intentional," and "making an impact" The art of hospitality is something every church should foster both among it's members and in the community. The book consists main The book is well intentioned and does have some good practical advice for reaching out and establishing relationships with others in your neighborhood. But, much of the advice is common sense and he is often repetitive in the presentation. The book is conversational in tone and uses a lot of words repetitively like "leaning in," "intentional," and "making an impact" The art of hospitality is something every church should foster both among it's members and in the community. The book consists mainly of stories of the authors interactions with their neighbors and lessons learned from these encounters. He also gives some brief illustrations from Scripture with very little exegesis to emphasize his points. If nothing else, the book did challenge me to think about how little I know my own neighbors and how I might better engage them in ways I had not thought of before.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carie

    I skimmed through most of this book. I have recently moved and have a goal of belonging to a community. So, I really want to have good relations with my neighbors. Our one neighbor kept mentioning that they are both private people. However, their children kept coming over to our home to play so I chose to befriend the parents. After a few hurtful words from the mother, I realize that they are private people and I need to give them space. I took it very personally, but after reading this book, I I skimmed through most of this book. I have recently moved and have a goal of belonging to a community. So, I really want to have good relations with my neighbors. Our one neighbor kept mentioning that they are both private people. However, their children kept coming over to our home to play so I chose to befriend the parents. After a few hurtful words from the mother, I realize that they are private people and I need to give them space. I took it very personally, but after reading this book, I realized it is not me. Because of this situation, Chapter 10 really spoke to me. I need to invest my time wisely with those that appreciate it and are open to having a relationship. Very freeing to me to read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lickliter

    This was a good introduction to the art of neighboring. Many of the points made in the book seem very reasonable, and loving our neighbor is a part of the Great Commandment. However, Christians must confess that we are pretty lousy at doing this. We don't even know many of our neighbors, let alone love them as we love ourselves. The rest of this review will simply supply some of the more memorable quotes. The bottom line: Read this book, and start making some of the helpful suggestions given on This was a good introduction to the art of neighboring. Many of the points made in the book seem very reasonable, and loving our neighbor is a part of the Great Commandment. However, Christians must confess that we are pretty lousy at doing this. We don't even know many of our neighbors, let alone love them as we love ourselves. The rest of this review will simply supply some of the more memorable quotes. The bottom line: Read this book, and start making some of the helpful suggestions given on its pages. The book starts off with an exercise that asks you to fill in a diagram, stating how many of your neighbors you know by name, and some more personal information about them. The statistics are not good. Many Christians acknowledge that "everyone is their neighbor", but the authors of this book show this to be unhelpful. "If we say, "Everyone is my neighbor," it can become an excuse for avoiding the implications of following the Great Commandment. Our neighbors become defined in the broadest of terms...The problem is, however, that when we aim for everything, we hit nothing. So when we insist we're neighbors with everybody, often we end up being neighbors with nobody." (p. 35) "Remember, it's easy to become numb to the Great Commandment. If we aren't careful we can take the most important teaching of Jesus and turn it into a catchy saying that we don't live out." (p. 41) "The number-one obstacle to neighboring well is time...It's vital to take a step back and ask ourselves if we live at a pace that allows us to be available to those around us." (p. 43) "The first step to taking the Great Commandment literally is to move from stranger to acquaintance in your relationships with those who live nearest to you." (p. 75) "Jesus didn't tell us to become acquaintances with our neighbors; he called us to love them, and that means we need to have an actual relationship with them...it is impossible to program relationships. All of us can, however, create environments where relationships might develop and grow into something significant." (p. 78) "Block parties are natural environments in which neighbors will often take steps from being acquaintance to actually being friends." (p. 79) In the chapter on "Baby Steps" the point is made that, "it's often the small moments that count, so focus faithfully on the small things day in and day out, and over time change can and will happen. Small things have a way of adding up and producing disproportionately great results." (p. 97) "The Great Commandment is a matter of obedience to those who know and follow Jesus. We don't love our neighbors so they will know Jesus; we love our neighbors because we already love Jesus and trust him. We are called to love our neighbors, even if our neighbors never show any interest in Jesus, because we have made Jesus our highest priority. Again, we are not supposed to love our neighbors to convert them. We love our neighbors because we have been converted. To put it even more bluntly, we don't love people so they will believe what we believe. Many people we love and serve won't ever believe, and that's okay. We just love our neighbors That's it." (p. 113-14) "The hardest part about loving others is that you can always do more. You can always give more time, energy, and money to those in need. But you can't be everything to everyone, so stop making yourself feel bad about not doing more...God doesn't ask us to do everything but he does ask us to do something--which is much better than nothing." (p. 142) I read this book because it was strongly recommended by Rosaria Butterfield, whose book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key, I had just finished. I also got to see Rosaria speak on the topic of biblical hospitality, and I think this book would make a great companion to hers. The Art of Neighboring might prove to be too simplistic for some, but I think that is its greatest strength. This book gives Christians something to aim for when it come to living out the Great Commandment that Jesus gave us. It is well worth your time and effort!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    What would happen if we all took the Great Commandment to love our neighbor seriously? This book is essentially an exploration and field manual of that question, but does so through the lens of literally being a good neighbor to those living nearest to you. Very little of what you read within will shock you (learn the names of your neighbors, invite them to block parties, do favors without expecting any in return,) but there are many sections where the author articulates things that you may know What would happen if we all took the Great Commandment to love our neighbor seriously? This book is essentially an exploration and field manual of that question, but does so through the lens of literally being a good neighbor to those living nearest to you. Very little of what you read within will shock you (learn the names of your neighbors, invite them to block parties, do favors without expecting any in return,) but there are many sections where the author articulates things that you may know intuitively, but reading it in plain, clear language serves as a bit of a wake-up call (conquer the fear of the unknown, navigating conflict resolution, having integrity in all areas of your life). I wouldn't hesitate passing this book to anybody in my Church who seeks to build stronger relationships to those around them, and who want to create opportunities for their neighbors to ask them for "a reason for the hope that is within them." (1 Peter 3:15).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Evan Hoekzema

    This book was super practical and came at a great time in my life. I was looking for some help as I sought to get to know my neighbors and some easy ways to do it along with a foundation for why it was essential to the life of a Christian. Now I’m taking our church through it too in order to get everyone on board!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Morgan

    “We do not love our neighbors to convert them; we love our neighbors because we are converted.” I would probably give this book 3.5 stars. Really helpful - and sometimes painfully convicting! - book about following Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors. Some practical advice, encouraging stories. Sometimes it felt a little repetitive or trite, but over all very solid book I’d recommend. :)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This was a practical , thought provoking book. We can change the world by caring for our own neighborhood and encouraging others to do the same

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    This was a challenging read. I haven't decided yet how I'm going to put some of the suggestions into practice, but I'm going to work on it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Stuart

    Enjoyed this book. Found it a little bit repetitive. Nothing seemed particularly novel. However, after reading just a few chapters I found it actually making change in my life. I have come to know at least 3 new neighbors because of reading this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I put this book on hold because we've been having problems with one of our neighbors for over a year now. I was interested to see what this book would say about neighbors from a Christian perspective. The book is written by two pastors who were challenged by their community to put into practice Jesus's Great Commandment to "'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.'" (Luke 10:27) Th I put this book on hold because we've been having problems with one of our neighbors for over a year now. I was interested to see what this book would say about neighbors from a Christian perspective. The book is written by two pastors who were challenged by their community to put into practice Jesus's Great Commandment to "'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.'" (Luke 10:27) They work with other area churches to coordinate a sermon series about loving your neighbor to encourage their members to be better neighbors. This book in turn encourages the readers to do the same - get to know their neighbors and develop relationships with them. They discuss how seemingly little things can really make a big impact on someone. I agree with them that today many people don't know their neighbors and we didn't in our last neighborhood. Now we live in a small neighborhood with only 8 houses, so we do know each of our neighbors by name and have spent time with all of them at some point. But, that also makes it harder when one of those neighbors becomes a problem. While they do address "problem neighbors" it's kind of cursory and I would have liked to see more examples and help with this, but mainly because that's my own personal issue right now. Overall, a good book with a great message. Some quotes I really liked: [an exercise in the book is to fill out a grid with info about your closest 8 neighbors] "About 10 percent of people can fill out the names of all eight of their neighbors, line a. About 3 percent can fill out line b [Some facts that you couldn't see just by standing in your driveway - where they are from, interests, hobbies, etc.] for every home. Less than 1 percent can fill out line c [in-depth info - career plans, goals, spiritual beliefs, etc.] for every home." (p.39) "Take another look at Mary. In particular, this one sentence is significant: Mary 'sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.' In Hebrew culture, to sit at someone's feet indicates a relationship between a disciple and a teacher. In that culture, however, women weren't supposed to be students, much less disciples of a rabbi. They were supposed to be in the kitchen helping fix a meal; a woman's identity was intertwined with her ability to be a good hostess. But Mary defies the cultural norms of her day." (p. 52) "We don't love our neighbors to convert them; we love our neighbors because we are converted. And the truth is, many Christians have been taught by well-meaning people that they should do nice things solely for an opportunity to have a spiritual conversation...We are called to love people - period. Whether those people ever take any steps toward God is beside the point." (p. 102-3) "There is a world of difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Just because we forgive someone doesn't mean we need to be best friends with him. Sometimes a relationship will still be broken, even if forgiveness has been granted. Reconciliation is the hard work of how we go forward together, whereas forgiveness is an attitude of the heart. We should offer everyone forgiveness, but we will not be reconciled with everyone we have wronged or who has wronged us." (p. 163-4) "Neighboring is not always about being happy and comfortable; it's about allowing God to polish off rough edges. Maturity happens when you put yourself in the place God wants you. Don't run because there's adversity. Maybe God wants to use the adversity to make you more like Jesus." (p. 168)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

    The Spirit was prodding and convicting my heart the entire time I was reading The Art of Neighboring. I have a confession: I know very few of my neighbors by name. I used to know my neighbors to my right twice over but both times those families moved. My oldest daughters plays with the new neighbor’s little girl to the right but I haven’t formally introduced myself to her parents. I know of some of the other neighbors but not real well. It’s a shame. Jay & Dave make a compelling case that we The Spirit was prodding and convicting my heart the entire time I was reading The Art of Neighboring. I have a confession: I know very few of my neighbors by name. I used to know my neighbors to my right twice over but both times those families moved. My oldest daughters plays with the new neighbor’s little girl to the right but I haven’t formally introduced myself to her parents. I know of some of the other neighbors but not real well. It’s a shame. Jay & Dave make a compelling case that we should know them and be actively pursing relationships to a varying degree with them. They say, I also learned that the story of Jesus becomes evident whenever we connect with the people who live closest to us. Jesus said, “Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). The practice of neighboring creates incredible opportunities for us as believers to connect out stories to the stories of our neighbors and to God’s story. (p. 10) They beginning with their stories. They invited their city officials to meet with a group of local pastors. These pastors wanted to know how they could impact their communities. The officials said the best help the churches could provide was by being good neighbors. Isolation reeks havoc in many neighbors and is attached to many social problems. So simple yet often neglected. It’s important to note that they argue neighboring should not be seen as an evangelism method (p. 99). Otherwise, we are performing a bait and switch. Our neighbors will feel like we traded being nice for an opportunity to proselytize. However, Jay & Dave argue inevitably faith will come as life happens and we are connected with others. I have discovered over the last year or two that evangelism feels uncomfortable because we treat it like a three step sales process. Nobody likes that. But when we evangelize through witnessing to the work of the Spirit in our own lives it’s natural and rarely will people deny your experience. The main rub is when those we have been neighboring with reject our gospeling. If neighboring is an evangelism tool then we stop pursing that relationship. But if it simply loving others unconditionally then we continue with the relationship. Jay and Dave then talk about the biblical commands for loving neighbor and root that in this simple art of neighboring. They also address many of our hesitations in doing so--time constraints, fear, etc. I have to say that both are fears of mine but their approach is balanced. They recognize that you cannot be intimate with every neighbor you have. They suggest being familiar with many of them and develop relationships with a few where there’s a natural connection. They also recognize that we must set boundaries. Good neighboring doesn’t mean we let people take advantage of our family. It means we are there for those who are in need and in conjunction we do not enable or do harm. The Art of Neighboring is for everyone. All of us have neighbors. All of us have been commanded to love our neighbors. You don’t have to dedicate your life to your neighbors but you should be there when life happens to speak into their lives. Just like the Spirit made a tangible difference in your heart when you were born again, your neighborhood should be different because you are there. They also point out that in many cases you may find some of your neighbors are Christians which provides natural allies in supporting and serving the neighborhood.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    Many reviews have suggested that this book is simplistic and common-sense; and they are right. But if that is true why aren't we doing these simple, common sense things? A few quotes: “From the city’s perspective, there isn’t a noticeable difference in how Christians and non-Christians neighbor in our community.”(p. 20) while I was doing a decent job caring for a lot of people in my church, I wasn’t doing a good job of even remembering my neighbors’ names. (p. 24). When Jesus was asked to reduce ev Many reviews have suggested that this book is simplistic and common-sense; and they are right. But if that is true why aren't we doing these simple, common sense things? A few quotes: “From the city’s perspective, there isn’t a noticeable difference in how Christians and non-Christians neighbor in our community.”(p. 20) while I was doing a decent job caring for a lot of people in my church, I wasn’t doing a good job of even remembering my neighbors’ names. (p. 24). When Jesus was asked to reduce everything important into one command, he gave us a simple and powerful plan that, if acted on, would literally change the world. This simple plan also offers us a different kind of life. It’s a way of living that makes sense and brings peace to people’s souls. Whenever we center our lives around the Great Commandment and take very literally the idea and practice of loving our neighbor, there’s great freedom, peace, and depth of relationship that come to our lives. By becoming good neighbors, we become who we’re supposed to be. As a result, our communities become the places that God intended them to be. (p. 25) I have noticed some striking similarities between the sales industry and how some Christians share their faith. In a well-meaning attempt to “sell” a good thing, we have all heard pastors use high-pressure sales techniques to sell the gospel. “What would happen if you walked out of this room today and were hit by a car and died? Would you go to heaven or hell?” (p. 101) The “agenda” we need to drop is the well-meaning tendency to be friends with people for the sole purpose of converting them to our faith. Many so desperately want to move people forward spiritually that they push them according to their timetable, not according to how God is working in them. It’s tempting to offer friendship with strings attached. (p. 102) Our tendency is to put ourselves in positions of power— in this case, always being the one to give. We want to be seen as the capable one with all the resources and answers. But being in a relationship where we allow others to meet our needs is always a good thing. The art of neighboring involves our being able both to give of our time and energy and, just as important, to receive from others. (p. 120) The challenge is realizing that it’s not about what you do, but why you do it and how you do it. At the end of the day, good neighboring must be an exercise in asking God what to do in any given situation. It’s about being on our knees in prayer, asking for discernment to help in the situations that we encounter. God doesn’t ask us to do everything but he does ask us to do something— which is much better than nothing.(p. 142)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Boyd

    The essence of this book is not wrong. Being friendly to the people in your neighborhood and in your community is common sense. As Jesus said, "Matthew 5:47 If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that." I have three neighbors who live close to my house, the two good neighbors are the atheist and agnostic. My problem neighbor? The Christian who goes to church every Sunday. My point: Jesus is right. Even the "heathen" know that it is c The essence of this book is not wrong. Being friendly to the people in your neighborhood and in your community is common sense. As Jesus said, "Matthew 5:47 If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that." I have three neighbors who live close to my house, the two good neighbors are the atheist and agnostic. My problem neighbor? The Christian who goes to church every Sunday. My point: Jesus is right. Even the "heathen" know that it is common sense to live at peace with your neighbors. That's not a Christian virtue; it's common courtesy. Do I think the Christian church could use some training in that? Yes, in fact most Americans need a refresher in courtesy. 30 or so years ago one of our presidents said we need "a kinder, gentler nation." He wasn't wrong. But what this book gets so desperately wrong is the bible and the unique calling that is loving your neighbor the Christian way. When Jesus was asked, (Matthew 22:36) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The Art of Neighboring totally, TOTALLY brushes aside commandment one to focus on commandment two. It then goes on to describe your neighbor as the person literally living next door. That is HUGELY problematic for several reasons. Here is just one: Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." When asked to define neighbor, Jesus gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan which shows us an enemy (Samaritan) being the neighbor. The book talks about giving a block party but look at what Jesus said about parties in Luke 14: 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” I could give many more verses but my point is this: Our neighbors tend to be like us. Jesus knew that we could typically manage to love those like us. What needs doing is loving those NOT like us. This is where Christians stand out (or should). The book says: “Jesus says your enemy should be your neighbor. He says you should go out of your way to be the neighbor of someone who comes from a place or history of open hostility toward you or your way of life...we would define this kind of love as advanced or graduate-level love. The reality is that most of us aren’t at the graduate level; we need to start with the basics. We need to go back to kindergarten and think about our literal next door neighbors before we attempt to love everyone else on the face of the planet.” Bad news. Jesus said that those stuck in kindergarten don't make it into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 25:45-46) An entire book could be written about where Art of Neighboring is theologically wrong but anyone familiar with basic scripture should know that at first glance. This isn't kindergarten Christianity; it's remedial humanism. Not a bad thing but not a faith thing, either. Aside from my overall take that this book is NOT CHRISTIAN (again, not a problem, not all good ideas have to be Christian but all Christian books should be) is an attitude it takes towards social justice: From Chapter One: The ensuing discussion revealed a laundry list of social problems similar to what many cities face: at-risk kids, areas with dilapidated housing, child hunger, drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, elderly shut-ins with no one to look in on them. The list went on and on. Then the mayor said something that inspired our joint-church movement: “The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” Later he explained that often when people identify a problem, they come to civic officials and say something like, “This is becoming a serious issue, and you should start a program to address it.” Frie shared candidly with us that, in his opinion, government programs aren’t always the most effective way to address social issues. He went on to say that relationships are more effective than programs because they are organic and ongoing. The idea is that when neighbors are in relationship with one another, the elderly shut-in gets cared for by the person next door, the at-risk kid gets mentored by a dad who lives on the block, and so on. Two big problems here: 1. Most white middle-class evangelicals don't live among at risk families. They don't live next door to at risk kids or elderly shut ins. The few needy people that do live among them normally have a support network because they are middle-class and have social nets. The neighborhoods that do have needs tend not to have one or two poor people but a community of impoverished people who can't share what they don't have. 2. Money is often required to care for the at-risk/needy. I shovel a neighbor's driveway in the winter months because they are elderly, no problem. I have helped them in other ways, too. But taking them food, medicine, repairing their home? Those things need social solutions. Financially, my husband and I can't take on a second household. Fortunately, they (like us) are middle class and don't have those needs but my point is, if they did their neighbors could most likely not make up the shortfall. This books also advances the idea of teaching personal responsibility to people who have tough issues going on. Not Christian, and frankly, most often not helpful. Lastly, this approach to evangelism has been proven not to work. How often those seeker friendly programs need to be proven ineffective before being dropped by the church I don't know but the fact is that every time the reports come out on them they reveal the same thing. They bring no one to Christ and create zero disciples. We need to stick to what Jesus said does work: Good works. (Matthew 5:16 and a whole lot more.) I think it is a great idea to get to know your neighbors, invite them to do things, evangelize if/when you can. But this is common sense, common courtesy living and should never, ever be mistaken for the gospel which calls for something greater.

  18. 5 out of 5

    gina

    Overall a decent read and inspiring to get out there and meet your neighhors. Faults: the narrator...while pronouncing words clearly, and almost all of the time correctly- is a pain to listen to. He brings the quality of the message down by his telephone operator pre recorded One.Word.At.A.Time type monotone droll narration. I actually had to dig out the cd case to see who read it because I SWORE it was one of those computer generated one word at a time things... where each word is recorded diffe Overall a decent read and inspiring to get out there and meet your neighhors. Faults: the narrator...while pronouncing words clearly, and almost all of the time correctly- is a pain to listen to. He brings the quality of the message down by his telephone operator pre recorded One.Word.At.A.Time type monotone droll narration. I actually had to dig out the cd case to see who read it because I SWORE it was one of those computer generated one word at a time things... where each word is recorded differently so that when the string of words are put together they sound bizarre and inhuman. He also *killed* me with his artistic interpretation of the pronunciation of the word "Christian" which in his mouth became Kris Tea Ann. Oh God...the horror... the horror. How can an author let a non-native read their book and not gently correct him on the American pronunciation of Christian? Did they listen to it? Did they owe this guy a favor? By the way, I've never heard anyone, from any country call me a Kris Tea Ann. Pros: A really good starting point for how to get motivated to reach out to your neighbors. Don't be discouraged if you've lived somewhere a long time and haven't made those steps. Anyway, DON'T get the audio. Get the book and settle in for a nice read. Save yourself the headache of the robot Kris Tea Ann from Mexico. It is a good book! I swear. I also think if reading it, its other faults will not be obvious (feels repetitive, like an extra long sermon series, not a book). My experience is that when reading you appreciate these frequent reminders, but when listening to it can be a little painfully repetitive.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John

    A book on how to be a good neighbor? Seriously? What next? A book on how to pour a bowl of cereal? But we need it. As simple and intuitive it seems to follow Jesus's simple command: "love your neighbor as yourself," it must be a heck of a lot harder based on my own experience. Of the eight places my wife and I have lived in our fifteen years of marriage, four of those locations we were flat out bad neighbors -- completely absent, and only two of those locations I can say we've been good neighbor A book on how to be a good neighbor? Seriously? What next? A book on how to pour a bowl of cereal? But we need it. As simple and intuitive it seems to follow Jesus's simple command: "love your neighbor as yourself," it must be a heck of a lot harder based on my own experience. Of the eight places my wife and I have lived in our fifteen years of marriage, four of those locations we were flat out bad neighbors -- completely absent, and only two of those locations I can say we've been good neighbors. The book is worth its price alone for page 38, which is a simple exercise that reveals how little most of us really know about our neighbors. And if we don't know them, how can we love them?! My wife and I have been convicted and have been very active in our new neighborhood. This book has encouraged me in a lot that we've done and prodded me to continue moving forward. This has to be at the heart of what God is calling us into as our ministry. If our churches can be places that take our neighborhoods seriously and take seriously Jesus's call to love our neighbor, a tidal shift will hit our churches. I'm praying we can be part of that tidal movement. The first three chapters of the book are strongest, and if you only have time for those 58 pages, at least read them. This is a book that's not going to bowl you over with its theological depth, but it will give you tools to move the love of God into concrete activity in your neighborhood. And we need a lot more of that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Wilson

    The Art of Neighboring is a Christian book. That much is clear. However, I was impressed with its lack of "get to know your neighbors so you can tell them about Jesus" approach in this book. It's still mentioned, but author Jay Pathak discusses the difference between an ulterior motive and an ultimate motive and says our ultimate motive in all relationships is to share our faith. This is a great read for anyone who has neighbors. (And that is the majority of us.) Gone are the days of going next The Art of Neighboring is a Christian book. That much is clear. However, I was impressed with its lack of "get to know your neighbors so you can tell them about Jesus" approach in this book. It's still mentioned, but author Jay Pathak discusses the difference between an ulterior motive and an ultimate motive and says our ultimate motive in all relationships is to share our faith. This is a great read for anyone who has neighbors. (And that is the majority of us.) Gone are the days of going next door to borrow a couple eggs, we usually just hop in the car and go to the store. This book gives ideas on how to create community within your community. He gives examples of how he's done it where he lives, such as an impromptu smores making and going door to door to invite the neighbors. Also, he discusses sticky situations and how to set boundaries in such instances. He gives a detailed story of what happened to he and his wife with one neighbor. After all, many times there will be someone who wants to take advantage of our kindness, and there are times we need to say no to others! In the end what happens when we take care of those around us? We can go looking right on our block for help, be it shoveling show, babysitting, or other things. We, in turn, can gift our neighbors with something we can do for them and relationships are strengthened and everyone benefits!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    This is a one note book. The authors have a goal, which is a good one, but it is a simple goal and they chose to turn it into a book. The goal is to get people to become more neighborly. I think this is a very worthy idea. If people know their neighbors, then their neighborhood becomes a better place and if lots of people do this, communities become better places. However, there is not much to say after you have convinced your readers that they should get to know their neighbors. I am grateful th This is a one note book. The authors have a goal, which is a good one, but it is a simple goal and they chose to turn it into a book. The goal is to get people to become more neighborly. I think this is a very worthy idea. If people know their neighbors, then their neighborhood becomes a better place and if lots of people do this, communities become better places. However, there is not much to say after you have convinced your readers that they should get to know their neighbors. I am grateful that it is clear that this is not an evangelizing tool, but a community building tool. Even so, I think 250 pages became repetitious. That said, I will be sharing some of Pathak and Runyon's ideas with my faith community. I think that this is an idea that we could and should consider. I recommend this idea and at least the beginning of the book to anyone, of any persuasion who is interested in hospitality. A great place to be hospitable should be close to home.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaytee Cobb

    the book itself is a bit repetitive, but that may be because you're supposed to read it over a longer period of time. instead, I read it in 3 days. I can't wait to really roll this out and change our neighborhood by being present and intentional about meeting our neighbors. my question, now that I've been convicted, is how to start a city-wide art of neighboring church initiative in Albuquerque. I am more than convinced that it can change the world, one neighborhood, one city, at a time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Baughman

    This had a lot of good, practical advice on the idea of taking the "love your neighbor" commandment literally. Personal connection is something a lot of people are missing lately, and yet something so important to our makeup as human beings. I'd certainly recommend this book for anyone who wanted to learn how to be a better neighbor, how to build relationships with the people around them, or how small gestures can add up to change a community.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    I really appreciated this little book. Its message is simple and bolstered by Biblical supports, practical advice, and real-life examples. I'm encouraged to explore this concept and pursue deeper relationships with my neighbors.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura S

    Very practical writing on a very important topic. 2 stars because it is sold as a Christian book but lacks a strong scripture and Gospel basis (which does exist) to love your neighbors. Mentioning a few stories about Jesus and citing some verses out of context wasn't solid enough for me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Schneider

    What would it look like if we took the words of Jesus in the Great Commandment seriously? That's what this book is all about. Very practical.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Important reading for all Christians--you don't have to cross the ocean to be "radical" ... you might just need to cross your street!

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Gardner

    2017 Reading Challenge  — Book 33: A about Christian living I picked up this book a couple months ago when I visited The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. They had a kiosk in the foyer with recommended reading relating to the topic of that morning's sermon (which was excellent, by the way), and this was one of them. I'd never read a book on neighboring. I don't know that I'd ever heard of a book on neighboring. And honestly, I'd never considered "neighboring" to be a verb. So I bough 2017 Reading Challenge  — Book 33: A about Christian living I picked up this book a couple months ago when I visited The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. They had a kiosk in the foyer with recommended reading relating to the topic of that morning's sermon (which was excellent, by the way), and this was one of them. I'd never read a book on neighboring. I don't know that I'd ever heard of a book on neighboring. And honestly, I'd never considered "neighboring" to be a verb. So I bought it. I'm glad I did! Pathak & Runyon are both pastors based in Denver, Colorado. This book grew out of an initiative in which their churches—along with eighteen others—joined forces to encourage their congregants to become better neighbors, at the encouragement of local elected officials. Their goal: mobilizing every church member to be intentional about reaching out to those who live close to them, and to build and foster relationships that lead to stronger, more caring neighborhoods all over their city. "But why do we need a book about this? Shouldn't the Bible be enough to convince us to love our neighbor as ourselves?" Sure. Maybe. But do you intentionally reach out to your neighbors to the extent that you probably should? I know I don't. So maybe I needed something like this after all. One of their main points is a great one: We often misinterpret (or at least misapply) Luke 10:25-37 . When a lawyer,seeking to justify himself, asked Jesus "who is my neighbor," Jesus responded by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The takeaway is that everyone is my neighbor. Who am I called to love as I love myself? Everyone! Well, that's all true, so far as it goes. But the argument Pathak & Runyon make is that if "everyone" is my neighbor, it can be easy to overlook those who are my actual neighbors, living in close proximity to me. And while Jesus' commandment to love "everyone" stands, the fact remains that I can't love "everyone" specifically; I can only demonstrate love to those I actually encounter. Since God has providentially placed me in a certain place and time, the authors argue compellingly that I have a special calling to love those He has placed near me in a specific, tangible, sacrificial way. That's an important point, to be sure, and they build their case effectively, but it doesn't require a whole book to get that point across. The Art of Neighboring spends a couple short chapters establishing the "why" of being a good neighbor, but the bulk of this book is very practical. Pathak & Runyon lay out a very specific strategy for building relationships with your neighbors, and developing unity in your community. One challenging concept which struck me as odd at first, but which I later grew to accept, is that "good neighboring" does not need to be—and sometimes definitely ought not to be—explicitly evangelical. That is, building genuine, loving, long term relationships with our neighbors does not require us to draw every conversation back to the Gospel. It's not that we should avoid talking about Jesus... more that we should trust that, as we build trust and camaraderie with someone, the Spirit will open doors to share the Gospel at times when our neighbors will be ready to receive it. I know I've turned people off in the past by hitting them so hard with the Gospel that I forgot to love them (that is the point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, after all!), resulting in doors that became closed for building any kind of relationship. Each chapter is genuinely helpful, though I often found myself skimming large sections. The biggest drawback is that this good book would have been a great book if it were about 80 pages shorter. The concept and the content are excellent, but the authors obviously had a word count quota that caused them to restate their points more often than necessary. Still, this book is very unique, and very much worth your time. Grab your copy here .

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tommy Kiedis

    "What would it be like to actually love our neighbors -- our actual neighbors, the people who live less than thirty feet from us?" In their book, The Art of Neighboring, Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon ask the question andprovide a practical roadmap for taking Jesus at his word, "to love our neighbors as ourselves." As the authors note, "Good neighboring does not involve any huge complicated plan. It just involves taking small steps to move from stranger to acquaintance to relationship. . . . We belie "What would it be like to actually love our neighbors -- our actual neighbors, the people who live less than thirty feet from us?" In their book, The Art of Neighboring, Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon ask the question andprovide a practical roadmap for taking Jesus at his word, "to love our neighbors as ourselves." As the authors note, "Good neighboring does not involve any huge complicated plan. It just involves taking small steps to move from stranger to acquaintance to relationship. . . . We believe that neighboring is the answer to solving the biggest social issues that exist in our communities today. It works better than any program, and it works better than any government initiative." (p. 180, 184). I love The Art of Neighboring. It is so much more than a good idea or lofty theory. Here are five reasons to read it: 1. Radical simplicity -- The Art of Neighboring takes a concept that sounds simple enough and keeps it simple, while showing the life altering power of Jesus' words. 2. Practical tools<?b> -- The Art of Neighboring provides applicable tools that make engaging ones neighbors a joy and fantastic experience. 3. Baby steps -- The Art of Neighboring helps you see that you don't have to be a big deal to make a big splash. Anyone can do this. 4. Ultimate motives -- The Art of Neighboring draws a significant line between ulterior motives (loving one's neighbors to "win them to Jesus") an ultimate motives ("We don't love our neighbors to covert them; we love our neighbors because we are converted.") 5. Church friendly/Neighbor friendly -- The Art of Neighboring helps churches (like the one I serve) to get serious about loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is a movement starter.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Kepler-Karrer

    I was somewhere between liking this and thinking it was ok. The parts I liked were that they dealt with a lot of the roadblocks that people tend to put up when they think about this kind of work, they gave some clear actions to take (not just results you should want), they recognized that relationships can be more difficult than a checklist, and they wrote in a way that would connect not only with pastors, but with lay people. This is a book I can and will share with my church. On the other hand, I was somewhere between liking this and thinking it was ok. The parts I liked were that they dealt with a lot of the roadblocks that people tend to put up when they think about this kind of work, they gave some clear actions to take (not just results you should want), they recognized that relationships can be more difficult than a checklist, and they wrote in a way that would connect not only with pastors, but with lay people. This is a book I can and will share with my church. On the other hand, the second half of the book was dealing too simplistically for me with topics that are much deeper and harder. In addition, they seemed to run out of stories that were helpful about halfway through. I am reminded of the preaching advice that we all got: "Never be the hero of your own stories." I wish they had chosen to tell more stories in the back half that didn't involve themselves. Finally, this seems particularly geared toward a middle or upper class ethic of community, which tends to be very individualistic. Some of the stories had me saying, "The generational poverty people in my neighborhood would have seen this situation very differently, and their perspective might have been a helpful addition." There is a bit of an assumption of mono-culture which is more difficult to overcome and I think would be altogether too easy to sweep aside as "those are not neighbors who want to go deeper". I think stretching to figure out that piece of the puzzle is something that I will want to hold out when we work through this.

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