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Montgomery and Cosper:

At Sojourn, we gather large on Sundays and small in community groups and in homes throughout the week. One of our community group coaches went to visit a community group a while back, and found this tendency at work.

It was a newer group at a campus that had recently launched, and the group members were eager to do something big and evangelistic. They wanted to coordinate a fall festival or cookout at the campus, inviting the neighborhood around the church to attend. The coach listened, nodding, and finally interrupted.

“These are all great ideas, but let me ask you something. What’s the guy’s name in the house next door?”

There was a long and awkward pause. Finally the group leader spoke up. “Uh, I’m not sure.”

“How ’bout across the street?” the coach asked.

This time the leader knew a first name, but when pressed further, he didn’t know the wife’s name, the kids’ names, or what the neighbor did for a living. The group had a big vision for reaching the “lost,” but they didn’t have affection for the people living just next door.

The coach, wisely, identified something all too common for us. We’re happy to put together projects and throw big events at our churches. We’re much more hesitant to befriend neighbors, share life with them, and be witnesses to grace in our ordinary, everyday interactions.

—Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper, Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 183.

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9 thoughts on “Do You Know Your Neighbors’ Names?”

  1. Thanks for posting this. My husband and I have been discussing this very thing. It’s much easier for us to plan a big event than to invite our neighbors into our homes. The thing is, getting to know our neighbors demands more–more time, more energy, more inconvenience and more love. And sometimes I just don’t “love my neighbor” enough to do that. May God give us love and compassion for those closest in proximity to us.

  2. David says:

    This brings in other issues like: too many extracurricular activities in our lives and even sometimes too much formal service in churches that can hinder this kind of outreach. Still, it is an “kind” of ministry that is vastly different from the church-planting works going on around the world. Plant, move on, plant, move one is far different from grow, extend, grow, extend. Both groups tend to speak past each other.

  3. I pretty much love this…
    Convicting and such a good reminder.

  4. JB says:

    My wife and I have tried getting to know neighbors and have had only a little success. Mostly we’ve found our neighbors don’t want to be known. They are (usually) polite but very private. This has been a frustration and I’d love advice how to better cultivate familiarity. Sometimes though, not knowing your neighbors is not because of a lack of affection for them.

    1. Richard says:

      How friendly we get with neighbors often depends on the country, culture (including neighbor’s origin), city and the neighbor’s personality. The main thing is that we made/make some type of sincere effort.
      How friendly we can get, is dependent on many factors, especially if you ‘click’ with them. If they are drug and drink loving bikers, it may be difficult!
      One of the ways a neighbor across the road got to know us (when we first moved in) many years ago now, was to have a small party inviting the people in our street. Everyone brought something to eat and I was surprised how many turned up. Hope this helps.

  5. John says:

    Anybody who has been to Sojourn knows that what Montgomery and Cosper say is not consistent with the demographic of their church. They are only reaching one type of people. And I’m not sure anybody is over the age if 65.

    1. Casey says:


      If by “one type of people” you mean “human people,” then I agree with you. Otherwise, your comment is a bit disingenuous and unhelpful.

      From the years I spent living in Louisville, my experience would suggest that Sojourn is one the more diverse congregations in the city. FYI, they just buried one of their 90+ year old members last month…so your agist comment is out of place.

      Perhaps a little less hijacking and a little more Hebrews 10:24 would go a long way, especially in response to this convicting post.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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