A Heartfelt Word to Pastors and Leaders

September 2012
Neighborhood Initiative

In one of his final messages, Dallas Willard encourages pastors and leaders to fulfil Jesus' call to "love your neighbor." In spite of the challenges we face in urban and suburban life, intentionally connecting with, serving, and loving those in our neighborhoods is still a Christ-directed strategy for the Church. 

This message was filmed in Dallas's home during his battle with cancer. Dallas was scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Neighborhood Initiative, but was not strong enough go in person. He felt so strongly about what the Lord had given him to say to this group that he asked a team to come to his house and film the message. We are grateful for this encouraging message about the importance of loving our neighbors.

Learn more about the Neighborhood Initiative at neighborhoodinitiative.com.


A Heartfelt Word to Pastors and Leaders

Addressing pastors and spiritual leaders, Dallas underscores the significance of the Neighborhood Initiative as a divine strategy tailored for contemporary urban challenges. This initiative is vital in rekindling connections within communities that have grown isolated, emphasizing that the act of loving our neighbors—rooted in love for God—can dissolve nearly every urban dilemma. Dallas insists on the church's crucial role as the incarnation of God's love in the world, urging leaders to embrace their responsibility to teach and embody this love. 

A Heartfelt Word to Pastors and Leaders


Here are some highlights from Dallas's message:

  • Primacy of Loving Neighbors in Urban Ministry: Dallas emphasizes the transformative potential of the Neighborhood Initiative, underpinned by Christ's teachings, as a crucial response to the evolving and often isolating landscape of modern cities. He asserts that truly loving our neighbors as ourselves, powered by our love for God, can address nearly every urban challenge. 
  • Incarnation as Mission Strategy: Dallas discusses the incarnational aspect of Jesus's mission, highlighting that bringing Christ to our communities involves personal, skin-to-skin, and face-to-face relationships. He suggests that the local congregation serves as the epicenter of God's incarnational presence, underlining the need for Christians to embody Christ's love in tangible ways within their communities.
  • Role of Pastors and Leaders: Dallas identifies pastors and church leaders as pivotal in cultivating a community of neighborly love. He challenges them to take seriously their role as educators in the faith, teaching and embodying the commandment to love one's neighbor.
  • Overcoming Social Isolation through Practical Love: Highlighting the practical aspect of the Neighborhood Initiative, Dallas speaks to the power of simple acts of service, such as helping a neighbor paint their house, as a means to combat the pervasive isolation and loneliness in society. He calls for a community approach that sees beyond the immediate physical needs to the deeper soul-starvation many experience, advocating for a ministry that manifests God's love in concrete, discernible ways.
  • Ultimate Solution to Human Problems: Dallas concludes by asserting that the teachings of Jesus, particularly the command to love God and neighbor, hold the key to resolving the fundamental issues of human existence. He underscores the unique position of pastors to lead this charge, equipped with divine authority, the transformative teachings of Scripture, and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The call to action is clear: embody and teach these truths in a manner that bridges the gap between church and community, thereby effecting genuine change in both character and society.