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Don Everts: Why Community is Important

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 24, 2022 10:00 pm

Don Everts: Why Community is Important

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 24, 2022 10:00 pm

Author Don Everts knows what it’s like to feel disconnected in your own neighborhood. But he also knows why community is critically important.

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Said he remembered that day when the sheriff pulled into our drive I forget what I want to hear that story welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationship that matter most and will send Dave Wilson and you can find us if family life or on our family life.

Family life today was trying to sell motorcycle.

A guy came with his nephew to say I would I want my nephews, a sort of mechanic to test out your bike so he takes it for a quick ride around the neighborhood. He comes back into the sheriff's following him into my driveway and it's a woman, she gets out and says she's pretty gruff. All she looks at me and this guy was abide in his nephew were all just dinner like and I'm like look around neighborhood like there's a sheriff's car in my driveway I'm like can we help you she goes gentlemen, you know what state you're in anywhere. I get were Michigan. It's a helmet state it is anymore, but I was at the time. Anyone wearing a helmet.

My call just to strive my bike, he only wrote around the block yeah and she looks in my garage and I have a street sign. That's not supposed to be there from one of my sons that took us as Wilson Street exit.

Yet she goes. You see that's reset I could put you in jail for reset and were literally standing on like oh no, I'm going to get arrested in front of my neighbors sister but I'm not going to do it like you're not, why not choose because I'm your neighbor and I go to your church and she starts laughing as I live right around the block.

I've been wanting to do this for you and I just thought that is good to have neighbors like that because I could be in big trouble. You know, every neighbor has every neighborhood has a lot of neighbors and working to talk about neighbors today right away right that's I brought it up.

That's a good chance I had no idea that I mean I saw sheriff car drive around the neighborhood.

I had no idea she went to our church.

She's really lame to you and Nancy had good he was. He talked and laughed about that for years was funny. Anyway, we got Don Everts in the studio family life today down, welcome back Grace be with you guys and you've written a book about neighborhoods called the hopeful neighborhood.

What happens when Christians pursue the common good. I can't wait to talk about this, but tell our listeners a little bit about yourself because you're not Mr. neighborhood man. You're actually a pastor, a dad, a husband, tell us what you do do a campus ministry for 14 years working with college students and then ever since then I've been pestering the local church working with everyday people you know who drive minivans and have mortgages and are trying to figure out how to be faithful believers. So thus, what I do and then on the side. I get dirty with research on the side you get 20 books on the side. Sound like it's that you always tease me about that but but there small books are based on research.

A lot of them are yeah and I I think by writing like journaling and writing helps me thinking and writing things out so the books are product of me just try to figure stuff out. He's been married how many years over 25 now have three kids three kids to a college one in high school my mom lives with us as well. So we we have a multigenerational household and we just moved eight months ago to the 31st neighborhood I lived in the last one I know in 25 years will know okay so we moved all the time. Growing up, and then I'm slowing down like I'm living in places longer, but we just eight months ago moved again I'm pastoring a church and in Springfield, Missouri, and it's the 31st neighborhood of so why a book on the hopeful neighborhood. We try to get it.

It was kind of two things. Part of it was processing some dissatisfaction I was having in my own life is a longer back story, but the longer short of it was. I began to realize that I was living above place in living above place is a phrase that's used to refer to people who were living there everyday life with little to no meaningful interaction with the people in the place right around actually where they live. So I drove to my job. I drove to my church I drove to my kids activities, but I actually was having very little meaningful interaction with the people in place literally like with my literal neighbors that sounds like everybody does.

When we put up the doors up and down we go in a pretty common, I think it depends on the type of neighborhood I think in suburban context where we commute more.

It's maybe a little more common, but interesting at the beginning of your book highly shared. You are going around her in a new neighborhood going around meeting all of you, neighbors, and then you got to one next door neighbor shook his hand. Yeah boy. When we first moved into our 30th neighborhood.

We were not living above place we were getting to know you know my wife missionaries all that's all we know how to do is get to know people and build trust and in my next-door neighbor. I went over and shook his hand. He was things watering his lawn or something. Something with Islam. After about 10 minutes of talking, he said you want to know something I said was that he said you're the first person in this neighborhood who's ever come over to introduce themselves and shake my hand. Okay. When did you move him thinking he's probably just brand-new yeah over 20 years. What over 20 years you live your I said you got another so we talking about. He said I'm not kidding. And so that was you know at the time it was like man.

People are lame like why your neighbor totally wire people and we had people are over house all the time and for your kids, then my kids were all in elementary school and one who wasn't yet the neighbors were always over.

We had like basement churches with some neighbors who rely starting pictures about Jesus. And so my kids little church service in our basement for them and my neighbors are drinking beer what was going on was like were in fall yeah were involved.

This was us when our kids were about that agency. Everybody's over all the time just super fine. Yet then, but then something happened and not overnight, but we just slowly started to see engaging with Piermont promotes the name of the subdivision wherein driving to my son's water polo matches my daughter was a cheerleader and I'm going to work and were doing all these other things driving other places and I was reading a novel called jaybird Crow which is by Wendell Berry and he's a Christian writer and he has a lot of convictions about what the Bible calls us to in terms of being faithfully laboring for the people in the place right around us and I was reading a novel. Discuss celebrating those things is a story as a vehicle for him to say this is what were supposed to be doing and I just never recovered from that moment in thinking.

I don't think I like this part of my life now. I'm not sure when it happened and does God have opinions about how we should be relating with the people in place right around us and I know he said love your neighbor. I know he said that but actually meaner help what he mean, who is my neighbor so it just got under my skin and then around about the same time a little bit after that we started doing research project with the Barna group and loosen our ministries on how Christians relate with their neighbors and how neighbors perceive Christians and churches in all of that and so then I had all this like research in me as well and just open the Scriptures and never quite got over it. How do people perceive Christians you mentioned how hello yeah so it's not great it's not great, which is interesting and we can talk about church history because Christians have been known throughout the centuries like we are the neighborhood people. We are the ones who help others when others don't.

We are the ones so that one of things that we ask people is who is best suited to help solve problems in your community and people trust more than Christians to make a difference in their community and help solve problems in community the trust the government more than they trust purchasing Christians. They trust just average community members more than they trust. Churches and Christians. They trust charities trust businesses more than they trust. Churches and Christians said that, especially given what's in our Christian heritage and what's in the Scripture when it relates to this, you say her Christian heritage you mean we were known. The church unity of the Christ was known as the rescuers, the ones that showed up on the leg happened and you could get sick. We showed up what happened.

I think a number of things happen.

It's interesting how the early church we think about the early church who were so known as people who radically loved others and love their neighbors in a time when they were treated terribly by their name. Yeah. So they were being persecuted by the very people they were sacrificing their lives to love and that's part of it, depending on which historian you read.

That's part of why the church grew like crazy in a 300 year. When it was outlawed all history sort how the world's first grow like this because it was illegal and they were being persecuted. Ellen Crider argues in his book the patient ferment of the early church, which I highly recommend fascinating. Very readable. He argues that it was because of the patients of the early Christians one of the early church leaders said the entire world is a stage and everyone's watching Christians to see how they will respond to persecution. They didn't respond. Reviling with reviling they didn't hit back.

They didn't even get better.

They loved openhanded just like Jesus who said love your enemies actually did it. Just talk about our contacts in our lives. Though people are listening right now.

One of things that is changed. Neighborhoods are changing around us and there's gobs of research that post-World War II a lot has changed to make neighborhoods less interactive with each other has to do with the Highway act as do air conditioning has to TV you can Ashley trace in history why there's just generally less interaction in neighborhoods but then one of the particular issues. I think that we have is as we move from the Christendom era were Christianity was trusted and respected to a post-Christendom era where it isn't that feels a certain way to believers and it's maybe not active persecution but we feel it and were back on our heels. I think we've gotten a little scared and a little bitter and a little closed off because of so I think we have our own issues that we are dealing with in the early Christians were tempted by that this way in this book. I like diving first Peter because he's writing to those in Asia minor who are being persecuted and are being tempted to counter curve in on themselves and he writes them to go to know you like your exiles but you elect exile. God's chosen you to be right where you are and what is he told to do.

He says don't return reviling for reviling do good. Who's going to hate you for doing good. It might be a light where you are. He just had to remind them of how to respond.

We still need that ring and I think we need to be. Remind you what I mean. It's a sad commentary. In some ways, you know the most important commandment love God with all your heart, mind, soul and love your neighbor as yourself. I remember you member this book came out.

I don't how long ago, Gabe Lyons, David Kinnaman unchristian yet sure. So was just survey research. This is what the nonbelieving world says about Christians, I think there were seven marks and never pick that it is not good. No hypercritical judgment all never pick up the book on okay let's see what they think and then I read it and I read the whole thing on Mike right so convicting yeah so you know what it is were doing a series in our church called. I'm sorry.

Why were gonna walk through these insulators what the people that live around us think about us some assist right around this is their perception what's true about it.

How can we do better so we send out little serious thing Jesus coming up the church is going to say I'm sorry for whatever I get a call our churches because they will you come on WJR and talk about this. WJR is one of the biggest radio stations in Detroit believe the church is saying I'm sorry.

So I think it is an interesting conversation I go on Frank Beckman in her just like a sentence I tell municipal came out. I write it like I agree we need to apologize for this to our neighbors. I thought I was in a meeting and my assistant, Debbie said hey it's like a five minute deal you'll be back in the meeting dates can be a make sure you listen so high that with his V and Frank says hey by the way, would you be willing to stay on to take some questions alike. Okay, right, Eddie goes okay I should break and I go ahead. As can be. A few more minutes will be very long comes back on and I have no idea was having to take the places lit up all these people want to ask you question okay go live you a day that was really interesting. It was church people mad at me. Yeah yelling at me for Riley say yes you are going apologize.

They need to apologize. I was like I literally said the one person I got this is exactly what they are saying about us were not humble people were not willing to own up to our own fault.

So you're saying that's what our neighbors are service saying about us. So the question would be better that David and Wilson with Don Everett family life today.

We're Don's response in just a minute. The first suite when you help reach more families with God's truth by giving to family life we want to send you a copy of the unique book about how to teach your kids when they have questions about the Christian faith, Henry Morgan Fehr has written a book called mama bear apologetics. We want to send you a copy as our thanks you give this or when you call with your donation at 800-3583 29 that 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today. Right now, back to Dave and Anne's conversation with Don Everts about how we get better at being a good neighbor and recognizing ourselves.

It's interesting because Peter talked about two things that will make you talking about you read his letters. The bottle but apropos to this. One of things he talked about was due good in any quotes from Psalm 34 which talks about be a creator of shalom to one of things he talks about in doing good is like pursue the common good of the people in place right around you like. Let's set evangelism to the side for the second and he does get back to just set it aside for second what he says to them is pursue the common good of the people around you. Be a blessing and even says like that's not illegal about how he. That's not illegal to like be a blessing to other people. So one of the things that we can do is apologize.

What a great thing to show that posture you don't assure that and the other thing is to say let's be a blessing for me that's were called to do were called to love our neighbors. Jesus says let them see your good works, so give glory to your father in heaven like do good works clean up garbage make cookies and bring them to people welcome the person who just moved into the neighborhood. Go over the guy you've lived with for 20 years and you never shaken his hand and go and shake the guys hand write things that we can do just to pursue the common good loss that we could talk brother Peter without his encouragement in early church did that they had pandemics they stayed in that whenever nose was running. They stayed in they cared for people who were sick, they were the ones who are taking these babies that were abandoned on the edge of town they were adopting them that the babies of the very people who were persecuting them. They just were pursuing the common good. We just stop there. That's something we could do, and boy would it change you note Kinnaman and lines would have to write a different book. I really did that.

Yeah yeah I know you know we live in Michigan. We have snow we got one year had back surgery and I would give Bill a shovel, so I bought the biggest stink and snowblower you've ever seen you and you do it. I would make it easier for we still have that thing I like it. Every time I snowblower driveway. I'll be bringing it back to the great day visit I was a Diane garage on go to Dean and Nancy still do him some like every time like every time I do take 15 minutes they end up walking out. We have a conversation. Thank you so much for doing this is just doing being a blessing for the little wasted.

The reason I do that is because we had a neighbor who is in her 80s.

Mrs. Hoover and everything yeah every single time my mom is my mom, my dad is usually at work. My mom would go out and shovel and I would help her and then Mrs. Tovar made a plate of cookies every single time. Those cookies are so amazing. My mom didn't care about the cookies she cared about Mrs. Hoover was just a great example for me there easy things we can deal in our research. It came out that is so quarter people United States to live alone by themselves. A number of people say that no one comes over their house ever and ever.

So in the medical field. They talk brother's chronic loneliness is sweeping the country and the interesting thing is in the medical literature. The people who have chronic loneliness because it breaks you down. They prefer to call it depression, but the doctors like it's chronic loneliness, like you, you have no one in your life and humans aren't meant to live that way.

So even like save the snowblower going up the cook at United meanly asked just to knock on someone's door just to say hi in our current context, it does not take much to be heroic. It does not take much to make a difference in the neighborhood listening.

I don't know how to help my neighbors just say hi and talk with them and take an interest there so many people who are alone in their homes there.

When I got a mailbox walkout.

That's right know when we had a blackout. It was like wow get to touch my neighbors. Nobody was in her house air conditioner was a have you read Bob Goss.

Everybody always yet familiar with the young memory. I'm good. I get a read read it.

Dave Bob Goff. He such a fine hair to read all we saw him speak his most whimsical crazy like that. He tells the story and maybe some of our listeners have heard this story that I'll just read parts of it that he begins and says for the last 22 years we put on a New Year's Day parade to celebrate our neighbors, our parade starts at the cul-de-sac at the end of our black and Anne's in our front yard. Our whole family wakes up early every year and we blow up over thousand helium balloons before we start taking the blues out of the house. We give thanks for our neighbors and for the privilege of doing life at them and they goes on. He says our black has only 20 houses if you count both sides are prayed isn't very long in our first year there were only eight of us standing at the beginning of the parade route. We stayed together at the end of the cul-de-sac, trying to look like a parade and someone said go and we started walking down the street waving to our six neighbors who are watching and now there probably four or 500 people who come now. Each year kids pull wagons full of stuffed animals and pet goldfish. There are no fancy floats bicycles with baseball cards in the spokes are the norm. And hey, here's why we do it we can't love people.

We don't know and you can either saying we love our neighbors a simple but guess what doing it is to just throw on the parade. We don't think Jesus command to love our neighbor is a metaphor for something else. We think it means were supposed to actually love our neighbors.

So engage them and delighting and throw a party for them. When joy is a habit.

Love is a reflex yeah I got Rita's expert. I just is so powerful, he says, because we been putting on the prayed for decades. We know all the people who live near us. I don't know if they've learned anything from us, but we learned a ton about loving each other from them. God didn't give us neighbors to be our projects.

He surrounded us with them to be our teachers a week before the parade. Each year we knock on a few of our neighbors front doors and pick a grand marshal and a clean from among them being picked as the queen is a big deal in our neighborhood. My neighbor Carol got the nod one year. A decade later, people still bowed to Carol when they saw her at the corner market or the gas station called her, your Majesty, it was just beautiful.

One year because of the battle raging inside Carol. She didn't think she would be oh to walk the parade route from the cul-de-sac to our house for the parade ends. I have an old Harley-Davidson motor motorcycle with a sidecar that year I put Carol in the sidecar and gave her a ride. She was the hit of the parade because all the neighbors knew about the cancer she had been staring down Carol elegant is always waived everyone and they way back just before we got to the end of the parade route.

Carol turned to me and took a deep thought filled breath.

It was as if she was going through the highlight reel of her life when she said you know Bob I really going to miss this.

I look to my neighbor in the sidecar next to me and said me to Carol me to even as I did I ask out.

If you would like Carol have at least one more parade with us. One year later, on New Year's Day, Carol was clinging to life by a few threads and was far too weak to get out of bed.

She'd made it to the day of the parade. She had once presided over as Queen. This was an ambition, I think had sustained her during the last months of her courageous battle just before the parade started. My sons, Richard and Adam went across the street and carried Carol from her bedroom to a chair they placed in front of her living room window facing the street.

Carol could hear the music and knew the parade was coming soon, but she couldn't see past the corner of her window, which she didn't know was that we had changed the parade route and within a few minutes, all 500 people walked right through her front yard. I sat next to Carol holding her hand, as hundreds of her friends and neighbors walked to her window, press their noses against it and waved to her and bounce balloons as they did through her tears. Carol lifted her we can slowly to her mouth and blew each one of them kisses goodbye. A few days later, Jesus lifted Carol up to heaven, it would be your second parade of the week. I don't know if the streets of heaven are paved in gold but I'm kind of hoping there lined with balloons and at the end of the parade a bit will find Jesus blueness kisses rubbing her noses and welcoming us to our next neighborhood. I just hope I get a house somewhere near Carol's again. I mean, I knew I was going cry F that is just so touching of what your stand on dad's a Christian be in a blessing that's running to an entire neighborhood.

An interesting thing that the research showed us some people may be thinking, well, you know, I want to focus on growing my faith and I'm focusing on those things rather than you know. Loving others and putting energy there. After hearing that story. This won't surprise you that the research told us that people who are pursuing the common good in their neighborhood say that doing that has made them feel closer to God. So it's false that there's like this dichotomy units want to invest my own growth are drawn like blow snow for people or you no bake cookies or whatever it is and that's not a dichotomy.

Many of the research tells us that your faith grows as you do this. It's almost like Jesus knew what he was talking when he said you want to find your life is a beautiful way to be a Christian and a good neighbor even listening to David and Wilson with Don Everts on family life to a is book is called the hopeful neighborhood. What happens when Christians pursue the common good in get your or when you call us at 800-358-6329.

That's 800 F peasant family L as in life and in the word today. If you know anyone who needs to hear today's conversation. Be sure to share it from where ever you get your podcast while you're there simple way you can help more people discover God's plan for families is by leaving a rating and review for family life tomorrow. David and Wilson will continue their conversation with Don Everts go into practical ways to love and engage the community around you that tomorrow on behalf of David and Wilson. I'm shall be added back next time for another edition of family life today, family life, today's the production of family life accrue ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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