Proximity- (noun) nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation.
At the Global Leadership Summit 2017, Bryan Stevenson (founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative- https://eji.org/bryan-stevenson) spoke on the “power of proximity.” His message was especially related to the need of helping the poor and incarcerated- not with money- but with a visible, active presence in the community. His stories were impressive as they reminded of the need to demonstrate care for all.
It’s a good message, this idea of proximity.
Jesus life is all about proximity. Instead of a god out of touch, just throwing blessings down from on high, our God sent his Son to be as close as one can be- born of Mary, living in our world, changing the world with his words and actions, dying and rising. Right there- right by us. Immanuel. That is proximity.
Thinking about life as a Christian and the impact of Lutheran schools, this notion of the “power of proximity” is integral. In a world where there seems to be a greater disconnect with reality and more and more demonstrations of an inability to communicate with one another, the “ministry of proximity” bears greater influence.
Consider this list of examples of proximity in ministry…and then feel free to share your additions-
*Parents’ presence. Kids need their parents- both parents- in their lives, participating in their lives, engaged in their lives. It’s God’s idea. Research also supports that it is holistically healthy for kids to have both parents in their lives.
*Presence of Christ in communion. We believe in his REAL presence, right there, for us. The God who is Immanuel and lived with us continues to be here, in bread and wine, with us and in us.
*Pastors’ presence in our schools. By being there, it shows pastors care and provide opportunities to connect with kids. Pastors’ presence builds relationships with staff, too.
*Proximity in the classroom. Teachers next to kids, not walled behind their desks. Teachers at eye level with kids, getting their attention, showing their care for the kids. Teachers who show up for events and are seen in church. Teachers can do SO much by just consistently being there for their students.
*Proximity in the community– Rural or city, small town or Fort Wayne, residential or near businesses, Lutheran schools are nearby, affecting their community. Does the nearby community know the school (and church) are there? If not, it might be time to make the school (and church) actively part of the neighborhood.
*Showing mercy. It might be “churchy” language but it’s a call from God to us (Luke 6:36). Perspective is affected by proximity and that perspective will have bearing on a response. It’s compassion and patience and those happen when we are living as a community, living with one another.
How is proximity affecting your reactions to your life’s opportunities?
We look forward to the sharing.