At the beginning of August, Black Rock served as a host site of the Global Leadership Summit, a two-day gathering of speakers and thought-leaders produced by Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. This year’s speaker list included Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative which is an organization he founded to advocate on behalf of the poor, children and people of color who are experiencing unjust bias in our legal system. Stevenson has argued multiple cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and his work has received wide recognition.
As I listened to Stevenson talk about his work, one of the first things he shared was the importance and power of being up close, in a face to face way, with those he was seeking to help and represent. Stevenson said, “Get close to people you care about helping. Proximity is essential because it will change you.” Proximity just means being very near or close and as he visited their prisons, got to know their extended families and understood their cases and stories firsthand, Stevenson found himself being changed in two ways that I think have direct application for us as Christ-followers when we get close or “proximate” with each other in intentional community.
Two things Stevenson found changing in his life as he drew near his clients were a) perspective and b) passion. The same will hold true for us as we intentionally find proximity with others this fall in a Community step like Community Groups, Starting Point groups or Living Free groups. When we surround ourselves with others who are committed to following Jesus and knowing about Him through the Bible or who are asking the same types of questions about faith, God and how it all fits together, we are changed for the better as we benefit from the experiences and stories of those sitting beside us. We grow from the mistakes as well as the triumphs of others, and our view and understanding of who God is and how He wants us to live expands as our perspective is influenced by conversation and knowing others. Additionally, we’ll find that as we surround ourselves with those who are also passionate about following Jesus, our own passion for growing and pursuing a life following Jesus will increase as well. Stoked passion fuels the engines of our souls to live day by day in a way that reveals and points others to Jesus.
Stevenson’s challenge was to get close to the people you care about helping. As part of Black Rock Church, we’re together on a mission to Love God, Love People and Serve Our World, and what better time than right now to do your part in supporting each other in that mission by getting close in community? Head to BRC.church to check out the best way for you to connect in community this fall.
For more information on the Equal Justice Initiative visit eji.org, or check out Bryan Stevenson’s New York Times best-selling book Just Mercy.