News and Resources

April 1, 2021

Good Neighbor Experiment

Applications due: ongoing – cohorts start January and August
Application form

The Health Fund is excited to partner with by SoCe Life and the Lilly Endowment to offer Great Plains United Methodist Churches a special opportunity for current or new signup Healthy Congregations teams to participate in the The Good Neighbor Experiment (GNE) at no cost. Not a Great Plains United Methodist Church or not in Healthy Congregations? You can still participate at a reduced cost – please visit to learn more.

Questions? Please call 316-619-4940 or email or

Cohorts begin each January and August. To sign up for the next cohort, please visit


The Good Neighbor Experience (GNE) is a cohort-based learning process for congregations who wish to engage their community as neighbors. GNE is rooted in the practices of Asset-Based Community Development and the Christian Faith. The material has been used in congregations since 2017 and the Neighboring Movement team has refined the material with each cohort we’ve led. The process includes in-person workshops, 4 action-based “Labs” of small group materials each 6 weeks long, and congregational coaching for churches; all occurring over a 9 month period.

Who is it for?

GNE was created for local congregations of Christian churches. It is done best when 4-12 people from a church are willing to commit to the full scope of the training, including attending all the workshops and personally participating in all 24 weeks of the small group curriculum.

NOT a church growth program

While some congregations do experience numerical growth, GNE is not intended to increase attendance on Sunday mornings or financial contributions. Instead, GNE is meant to create renewed vitality and to help the congregation become more deeply embedded within its community. GNE is for churches that are tired of creating programs that nobody wants to come to. Many of us have been taught that you can only engage your neighbor through evangelism or by providing a service to them; GNE offers another option. Throughout the experiment, churches are invited to move from scarcity to abundance and to see their role shift from service provider to community connector.

How do you participate?

GNE offers two ways to participate in a cohort:

  • Regional Facilitator: There may be a regional facilitator in your area who is trained to host an in-person cohort, or maybe you could become a facilitator! If you would like to learn more about what being a GNE facilitator entails, please click here!
  • Online Cohorts: The Neighboring Movement staff leads online cohorts that will usually start in January and August of each year.

View the webinar recording to learn more

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.

Scope and Sequence

Workshop 1: Neighbor Where You Live
The first workshop introduces the materials and focuses on the theme of neighboring where you live.

Lab 1: The Ingredients of Neighboring
The first lab introduces the ingredients of neighboring: relationship, abundance, and joy. In this Lab, you will learn our theological understanding of neighboring and begin experimenting with practices of neighboring.

Lab 2: The 8 Front Doors
The second six weeks of curriculum ask participants to be great neighbors where they live. This means considering the 8 front doors closest to your own and intentionally being a great neighbor to the people who live in those homes.

Workshop 2: Neighbor As a Church
In the second workshop, you will shift your scope to consider what it means to neighbor as a church.

Lab 3: The Gifts Garden
In the six weeks of Lab 3, the small group shifts to an outward-focused task group. Participants will do Learning Conversations with their group, their church, and people in their neighborhood in order to discover their Gifts Garden. From these connections, they will begin to dream of collective action they could take.

Lab 4: The Re-Cycle
The final six weeks of the small group curriculum focuses on community discernment through contemplation and action. Instead of forming a stagnant strategic plan, the Re-Cycle helps communities be agile in an ever-changing world while maintaining rooted in their core values.

Workshop 3: Celebration!
In the final workshop, the churches are invited to share their journey and celebrate their victories. This workshop is also used to uncover next steps for action and connection. The churches in GNE will be introduced to the Healthy Congregations resources provided by the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund during this workshop.

Cost and Commitments

Responsibility for Churches

  • Financial Costs: Churches will be asked to cover some of the cost of the cohort. This cost varies based on the number of churches participating, if the cohort is in-person or virtual, and the regional area where it is being hosted.
  • People Power: Churches are asked to form a team with a minimum of 4 lay people and 1 church staff person who are committed to attending every workshop and doing all 24 weeks of the small group curriculum.

Responsibilities of Individuals

  • Action Ready: GNE only works if the church is committed to actually engaging their neighbors. All participants should have the expectation of meeting their actual neighbors, both where they live and in the neighborhood of the church.

More on Neighboring and GNE

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.

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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