SUMMARY: Without many in the white evangelical church even knowing it there are usually two baked in assumptions when we try to help our poor or oppressed neighbors. One, that we have the answers and a fresh perspective to problems that have plagued communities for generations and two, that our short term volunteer work is more helpful than harmful.
“Volunteerism that is not rooted in relationship and understanding can be toxic,” Pastor David Docusen writes.
Docusen weaves personal stories of learning, embarrassment and hope with the evolution of his church, Center City Church (Orlando, FL), moving from an affluent part of the city to an impoverished part.
Docusen’s premise is that we need to help the poor and oppressed, but not in short term mission trips or other ways that benefit the person volunteering and not the members of a struggling neighborhood. To make true change in a community we must first listen, learn, form relationships, be patient, and build a holistic long term plan with leaders in a community.
“A lack of patience causes many well-meaning people not to take the proper amount of time to listen, learn and holistically work with longtime residents,” Docusen says.
The group discussion questions at the back of the book are excellent as are his recommended additional resources.
Some books on weighty matters can get bogged down in theology or spend a significant amount of time in the weeds making it a slog to get through – this book is not one of them. A great beginning to start a journey on what is means to love our neighbor.
KEY QUOTE: “Processing and engaging with matters relating to racial and socioeconomic inequality takes time. You may be compelled to try and to take action or use your influence to fix an issue. However, you may do more harm than good if you do not take the time to listen, learn and grow in your own heart first. Tension is accompanied by discomfort. Discomfort leads to prayer, repentance, and growth. Engage discomfort. Embrace it and learn from it. It has a lot to teach you.”
BONUS: Visit Neighborliness.com for a group discussion and prayer guide.
BONUS II: Don’t have time to read the book? Listen to Docusen’s discussion about Neighborliness on the Clarity Podcast below.
DID YOU KNOW? Sunday to Saturday has a Good Reads page where we post all of the books we have read – even the ones that didn’t make the cut.
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