Welcome to 98118

The following is a walkthrough of “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” by Reggie Joiner If you want to know more about why I’m writing this series or a quick place to check for the previous chapter posts click here.

Ch 2 Welcome to 98118 – “Learn to be a good neighbour in a complex culture”

Reggie opens this chapter talking about the 98118 Zip Code. At the time of writing this book, 40,000 people lived in that zip code, and they spoke 59 different languages. It was considered one of the most diverse spots in the United States. Reggie begins to make the connection that we may not have similar religious/political viewpoints, but we all have more in common than we might think.

“They have emotions, they get sick, they have jobs, they are in relationships, they have families, they know Harry, they want a better future (p29)

The challenge is, what happens if culture is getting more complicated? What Reggie doesn’t know at that time is that culture is going to become extremely complicated and that in some ways, a culture war is coming to parts of the world.

It is here that the “Game-Changer” comes in, “people are embracing diversity and rejecting those who show signs of intolerance (pg29),” and again, he is 100% right. Reggie moments that prejudice is going out of style and that it’s going to force is as Christian to rethink how we discuss our values and beliefs.

“Many of our conversations will not be with people who, think like us, know is or trust us”

The above quote will set the foundation for the rest of the chapter, and Reggie unpacks 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

He focuses on the bolded words as a way of outlining our position as Christians, and we engage with not just the world but also our neighbours. A neighbour is someone who is different than us but is a person, not a project. We are to love those who are not the same as us in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15.

“The church convinced me for years that I was supposed to love people who are different, but never gave me permission to like people who are different (pg34)”

My Original Notes and Insights 

Q – What steps can your church take to begin to build a bridge to a group of people who are different than those who attend your church?

  • Diversity, the leadership team
    • Include people who were not like me and more like the community we are serving
  • Challenge students to think outwardly and not inward
  • Rethink community strategies by engaging community students in the conversation. What do you need?

Looking Back: When I look back, I see how much more I could have done to meet these goals, especially in light of how the world has changed since I first read this book. Culture drama and intolerance in some ways is on the rise because we have lost sight of 1 Peter 3:15, especially the word “gentleness.” I think we ran toward attack too quickly, and the lack of diversity and conversation in youth ministry added to the drama students were facing. We didn’t teach them that different was okay and that we could love and like those that were different.

In a Covid-19 World

I believe this chapter is more relevant today than ever before. Our world is shifting to a “take care of myself” mentality. But the heart of the Gospel is to love your neighbour as yourself. Your neighbour is anyone different than you, including those you can physically see and those you interact with on a digital landscape. We need to circle back to this idea and ask ourselves tough some tough questions?

  • Is our community welcome in our church?
  • Is our community represented in our leadership and volunteers?
  • Have we asked community students and adults what we can do as a church to support them?
  • How are we teaching students to love 1 Peter 3:15 in a digital landscape?

FREE DOWNLOAD: In this chapter, Reggie gives a few tips on how to be a good neighbour. Using his information as a guide, I put together a short devotional you can use. A Cheatsheet to Being Neighbourly Devo

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If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

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