52 Weeks of Neighboring

by Matt Johnson

We were created in the image of the Triune God, designed to be in meaningful relationships that form community, and we are taught by Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves. While these truths are good news, living into them is very concrete, sometimes difficult, and easily forgotten. We struggle to love our neighbors.  

SoCe Life, a hub of the Missional Wisdom Foundation, is a non-profit organization located in the South-Central neighborhood of Wichita, KS. The founding belief of SoCe Life is that everyone is gifted, and as individuals share their gifts for the benefit of others, they experience wholeness and the community becomes stronger. This belief drives the daily work of SoCe Life, connecting neighbors based on gifts and interests.

SoCe Life researches, practices and teaches about the simple act of neighboring. They are networking with folks around the country to study the best practices of good neighboring, and aiming to live out good neighboring in their community in Wichita. SoCe Life shares their knowledge with individuals, communities, and organizations who want to be better neighbors.

The latest SoCe Life initiative? 52 Weeks of Neighboring. 52 Weeks of Neighboring is a project that includes a new neighboring tip every week. Each neighboring tip is accompanied by a blog that details different ways to practice it in your neighborhood, concerns to keep in mind, past experiences with that neighboring tip, and even the occasional corny joke. On Facebook and Twitter, SoCe Life gives the short and sweet version.

To understand why 52 Weeks of Neighboring is so important, here is a little background. In 2015, State Farm conducted a “State of Neighbors” survey. Their key findings are particularly interesting:

Only 25% of people report knowing the name of their next-door neighbors,

40% of millennials wish they were more connected with neighbors, but are the least likely to have had face-to-face interaction in the last month,

58% of neighbors say it’s important for neighbors to socialize, but only 16% of men and 11% of women have ever organized a social event, and

75% of neighbors say it’s important to welcome new neighbors, but only 46% actually welcomed someone new into the neighborhood.

So what do all these numbers tell us? They tell us that people want to neighbor, but don’t know how. SoCe Life is seeing this same trend in their neighborhood as well as in other places connected with SoCe Life. Thus, the idea for 52 Weeks of Neighboring was born: to create small, practical avenues for folks to begin to neighbor.

SoCe Life refers to its neighboring tips as experiments. While SoCe Life revolves around neighboring, they don’t claim to have all the answers. They’re experimenting every day and believe the 52 Weeks of Neighboring followers should have the same freedom. Sometimes neighboring experiments work out great! Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you have to tweak them a little to make them fit your unique neighborhood. That’s the beauty of SoCe Life’s neighboring tips! They are designed to be moldable no matter where you live – a duplex, a dorm, or a cul-de-sac.

The hope is that 52 Weeks of Neighboring will be a catalyst for SoCe Life’s vision – a nationwide Neighboring Movement. In this dream, SoCe Life sees neighboring as a way to transform neighborhoods, cities, and even the nation from the inside out. And on a deeper level, people may rediscover their own God-given gifts and the beauty of sharing those gifts in community.

Ready for SoCe Life’s 52 Weeks of Neighboring? Sign up for weekly emails here. http://www.socelife.org/52-weeks-of-neighboring/. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter or keep an eye on their blog for all things SoCe Life.