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April 1, 2020

Good Neighbor Experiment

Applications due: TBD
Application form

For more about GNE and to sign up for the next 2021 cohort, visit

The Health Fund is excited to partner with by SoCe Life to offer a special opportunity for current or new signup Healthy Congregations teams to participate in the The Good Neighbor Experiment (GNE) at no cost. Questions? Please call 316-619-4940 or email or

“What if loving our actual neighbors could change the world? GNE moves us from scarcity to abundance, from program to relationship, from needs to assets, and from fear to love. Be prepared to be transformed!”

The Neighboring Movement was founded in 2015 when Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson & Rev. Ashley Barlow-Thompson, with their neighbors Matthew & Catherine Johnson, began seeking a way to strengthen their South Central Wichita (KS) neighborhood (SoCe) by discovering the gifts of their neighbors and identifying shared neighborhood assets. Through their vision, they developed the Neighboring Movement to strengthen communities, connect individuals, and revitalize churches.  Since then, The Neighboring Movement by SoCe Life has continued to research, practice, and teach about neighboring.  In 2017, the team developed a 24-week curriculum called the Good Neighbor Experiment (GNE). As of fall 2019 thirty-one churches, including seven Healthy Congregations teams, have used the material in a cohort model. The feedback from the churches has been overwhelmingly positive.

The year-long cohort includes 3 labs, group practice with the GNE curriculum, an online discussion group, and coaching calls with Neighboring Movement staff.

Update April 2020: We asked our friends at the Neighboring Movement to share their thoughts on ways to be a good neighbor in this time of social distancing – they have some great tips in the video below.

View the Feb. 19, 2019 Healthy Congregations Learning Community Webinar featuring Adam Barlow-Thompson and Matt Johnson of to learn more about this exciting program and how it works. You may also download the presentation slides here.

View the webinar recording to learn more

Good Neighbor Experiment Description

Jesus said “Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.” With GNE you can follow this commandment with intention. GNE includes 3 workshops, 24 weeks of small group curriculum, and individual church coaching with the Neighboring Movement team. Churches are encouraged to send a leadership team, ideally with 1 staff and 4 or more lay people, to the workshops. Those leaders will receive an introduction to the materials and tips for facilitating the curriculum when they go back to the church. Community members beyond the church are welcome on teams.

The curriculum is great for small groups, Sunday School classes, and home groups. It includes a detailed facilitator guide and is used best as a coordinated effort across the congregation. The first 12 weeks of the curriculum focuses on neighboring where you live, while the last 12 weeks focuses on neighboring as a church. GNE is a tool for discipleship growth, outreach, and community development.

Each individual will be asked to:

  • Work on a Block Map for the entirety of the program. The Block Map is a tool for neighboring with the 8 front doors closest to your own.
  • Engage the neighborhood around the church by creating an Asset Map. An Asset Map is a tool for connecting the gifts, talents, and treasures of the neighborhood.
  • Maintain spiritual formation practices as defined by the curriculum

Each church will be asked to:

  • Create a Neighboring Experiment Plan at the first workshop which will outline the details of their work for the year.
  • Celebrate the progress of the neighboring practice groups
  • Define their discipleship through the lens of neighboring
  • Create a final report which shares the stories created during the year and their plans for future engagement.
  • Participate in a monthly coaching call with the NM team to check in on progress of their experiment.

About the Labs

In Lab 1, participants learn about the three ingredients of neighboring: abundance, relationship, and joy. These ingredients are key for understanding good neighboring.

Lab 2 focuses on basic neighboring skill by putting these ingredients into practice with the 8 front doors closest to your own.

Lab 3 shifts the conversation to neighboring within the context of the church, and culminates with a church block party that highlights the assets of the community.

Each lab includes 6 weeks of participant readings and a Leaders’ Guide.

Churches participating in the initial 2019 Healthy Congregations cohort, which kicked off July 13 in Concordia, are listed below.

  • Andover United Methodist Church, Andover, KS
  • DeWitt United Methodist Church, DeWitt, NE
  • First United Methodist Church, Hutchinson, KS
  • First United Methodist Church, Newton, KS
  • Pretty Prairie / Murdock United Methodist Church, Pretty Prairie, KS
  • University United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS
  • Williamsburg United Methodist Church, Elm Creek, NE
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