Updated: Feb 26
Having grown up in Downs, a small rural community in Illinois, I learned the beauty of neighbors helping neighbors. I experienced firsthand how each member of the community, regardless of background, had unique gifts to share.
If you needed your car fixed, you took it to Chuck’s dad; if your wiring went bad, you called Russ. This art of neighboring was practiced everywhere in my community. I can't count the times I watched my dad, known around town as Fuzzy, put on his boots and Carhartt jacket and jump to the aid of a neighbor in need. A number of years after leaving my small town, I became a pastor. And even though I no longer lived in my town of 600, the lessons I learned there remained. But I soon discovered that the Christian community wasn’t always like the farming community I knew. There was a temptation for Christians to huddle, isolating themselves from (and even being dismissive of) their neighbors and neighborhoods. In 2017, I began to dream about the church in America. What would it be like if Christians participated in their neighborhoods like my neighbors back in Downs? What would it be like if Christians pursued the common good with their neighbors right where God had placed them? To explore these questions, I assembled a team and together we created a research project with Barna called Better Together: How Christians Can Be a Welcome Influence in Their Neighborhoods. We discovered that while both Christians and non-Christians were hungry to make a difference in their neighborhoods, they needed help. Out of this important finding The Hopeful Neighborhood Project was born. The Hopeful Neighborhood Project is a collaborative network committed to increasing neighborhood well-being around the world. It is founded on the conviction that even in this inc