By Kylie Foley
North Carolina Rural Church Community Development
Durham, North Carolina
First, read Psalm 32:8-11
Working with rural United Methodists Churches in community development presents some interesting challenges. On my best days, I work with clergy and lay leaders that use data and best practices to address needs in their community. On my worst days, I barely contain myself from openly discouraging churches to meet their neighbors.
A phrase that ties both the highs and lows together in our ministry is “cultural humility” —the explicit demand to never feel like the expert in the room. God is mysterious and so are God’s people. Listen nonjudgmentally to all. Treat people as they want to be treated. Following Jesus’ examples are often times the only lesson I want people to take away from our work. And always, without fail, it is the simple lesson I am left with at the end of each spiritual high and low.
God is the guider and the guidance. I am the follower, the repeater, and the quiet one. To love our neighbors means to leave our pews, certainly. But it’s important to remember, in the spirit of cultural humility, that it is the Lord that says “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.” Not us, not our churches, our innovative ministry, or are best intentions.
1. What have you been learning about the world and/or God?
2. Which lessons have you been resisting?
3. What could learning from our neighbors look like in your own life and your ministry?