by Clare Jewell

“Okay, Jesus. What do I have to do to satisfy God? What is His primary command? What’s the minimum requirement for getting into Heaven?” The man wasn’t really looking for information. This was a test. He wanted Jesus to prove Himself.

Jesus reversed the flow of the conversation. “What does the Law say? What do you think matters most?”

With great pride and certainty, the man responded, “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, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus affirmed him. “Do this, and you will live.”

Oops! This man was an expert in knowing the Bible, but he was an amateur when it came to actually living it. So he tried to narrow the scope. He wanted to minimize the impact on his life and asked, “Who is my neighbor?” How sad. He had no idea who was living within in his sphere of influence.

Oops! Sounds like he might feel right at home in some of our churches.

Planting churches is all about loving our neighbors. It is rooted in a belief that sacrificing our comfort (and some of our internally oriented programs) to lead people to Jesus is a worthy endeavor. But before we can reach our neighbors, we first have to know our neighbors. Who is living next door to you? Who lives across the street? What is the demographic makeup of the community where your church is located?

One of my core purposes in coordinating church planting is to prompt churches to take responsibility for sharing the gospel with every man, woman, and child in their circle of influence. That has to start with knowing them.

As Jesus said, it all comes down to two things: Love God. Love your neighbor. Everything else hangs on those two commands.

NEED HELP? Regular Baptist Church Planting can connect you to people and resources designed to help you know your neighbor. Contact me at cjewell [at] garbc [dot] org or (260) 466-9678.

Clare Jewell is national church planting coordinator for Regular Baptist Ministries.