IMPROVING THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Clergy have in their power the ability to have fun while improving the neighborhood. (If you are not a pastor, pass this along as a fun invitation.) Look around your neighborhood and note and identify four or five churches who have at least one full-time pastor. Be bold and select churches of different denominations or no denomination, liberal and conservative. Find out the name and contact information for the pastor.
Prepare to write each a letter that will be followed up with a phone call. (These days a letter is far more effective than an email.) Explain that since you are pastoring in the same neighborhood, you would like to become better acquainted. Towards that end, you would like to call them in the next several days and invite them, along with a few other neighbor pastors to choose an afternoon when you could all go to a movie and share a light meal afterward to both discuss the movie and become familiar with each others ministry.
NO HIDDEN AGENDA
Assure them that you have no hidden agenda or any expectation of any action beyond a shared awareness that as clergy we share a stressful calling and occasionally can offer personal support in a too often fractured world. Also, tell them that you recognize that we come from diverse theological perspectives, but you affirm with Paul “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:4)
SUGGEST A MOVIE
Pick out a movie that you think might be appealing, identify the times for a late afternoon matinee, and a nearby restaurant. My guess is that a Monday or Tuesday or Friday afternoon might work best. Tell them you will call them in the next couple of days to hear their response. When you do call, be prepared for some hesitation. If they say that they have a conflict, ask whether they would be open to a future time or even a different venue.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
What you are doing is beginning to build community among pastors in your neighborhood. Not everyone will be willing to join you, but if you can get between three and five, you have a good start. Consider it an adventure into the unknown that will likely have some pleasant and unexpected results. It is a very practical way of “loving your neighbor.”