The Good Neighboring Experiment
By Adam Barlow-Thompson
Think of your neighborhood. Maybe it's a city block, an apartment building, or a retirement community. Maybe you live in the country and your neighbors are far, or maybe you live in a cul-de-sac and they are close by. No matter where you live, you are somebody’s neighbor and somebody is your neighbor. Over the last 3 years we have been advocating for better neighboring and most people inherently agree that being a good neighbor is a good idea...but what if it is more than just a good idea? What if neighboring is a movement, and what if that movement started with Jesus?
At the Neighboring Movement, we believe neighboring has the power to impact public health, transform communities from the inside out, and revitalize churches. Since 2015 we have been learning the best principles from neighboring initiatives around the country and experimenting in the South Central (SoCe) neighborhood of Wichita, KS. Now we are excited to share what we've learned.
The Good Neighbor Experiment is the culmination of our work. It combines spiritual formation, Asset Based Community Development, and neighboring tips in a six week curriculum designed for churches. We spent the fall of 2017 working with congregations to test and improve the content and now are making it available for purchase to anyone who wants to lead a group through intentional neighboring.
The first Lab covers the Key Ingredients to Neighboring. Here is a sneak peek at the three ingredients we think make for great neighboring.
- Abundance: Neighbors view the world with abundance over scarcity. The markers of abundance are hope, optimism, contentment. Seeing the good in people and events is a conscious skillset.
- Relationship: Neighbors value meaningful relationships knowing that community is essential for health and happiness.
- Joy: Neighbors radiate joy! They intentionally cultivate joy which is bigger than happiness. They have a positive outlook on life and are joyful even in the midst of suffering.
Later in 2018, we will release 3 more labs. Lab 2 is called Basic Neighboring Skills and centers around a weekly neighboring practice. Lab 3 will focus on neighboring as a church and imagining neighboring as a ministry within the congregation. The final lab, Lab 4, will be called Neighboring for Cultural Change and will help congregations embed neighboring in their DNA. The curriculum includes PDF downloads and access to online resources. Participants have about 4-5 pages of reading each week along with an experiment or practice to accomplish. The Leader's Guide is full of activities and helps make leadership accessible to anyone who is willing.
Here are some testimonies from people using the Good Neighboring Experiment:
This neighbor thing is incredible. We are really doing it! I've never had a group actually make changes that were so evident. It is amazing to me.
Rev. Lora Andrews
It is simple, easy to incorporate, and can change lives.
Many of my people didn't know their neighbors at all, but slowly my whole group is learning the names and stories of their entire block.
GNE Group Leader
If you would like to know more about the Good Neighbor Experiment or the Neighboring Movement visit our website at www.neighboringmovement.org.