Church Partner: Grace UMC in Winfield, KS

At SoCe Life we have lots of partners. They are great people from all over the country who are committed to actually put neighboring to the test. Below is a post from Rev. Lora Andrews of Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield about a group she is leading in a neighboring initiative. 

One week. That is how long it takes for a group of people to be more mindful of the people next door and take steps to get to know their neighbors.

At least that is what I learned as we gathered in my living room one week into neighboring here with a small group from Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield, KS.

I can already see that we are in for a transformative experience. There are 16 of us who have embarked on a journey of neighboring through a book study of The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon. We also invited SoCe Life to come down to the first gathering to share about what they do, and we are taking a field trip to SoCe on May 21.

I have heard a ton about SoCe and the Neighboring Movement, and I wasn’t sure how it would translate to my context. My church is made up of folks from all over town and the small group reflects that reality. The people who signed up for the group are from all different life stages and income levels. We have folks who have lived in their homes for decades and folks who are new to town. We have folks whose homes back up to the golf course and we also have the newest recipient of the Winfield Habitat House.

The question going through my mind is: How is learning about neighboring going to work when we aren’t all neighbors?

The answer is: We are all neighbors…just not each other’s neighbors.

I’m finding neighboring to be something that we all have in common:

·       We all have neighbors we don’t know.

·       We all have neighbors we know pretty well.

·       We all are trying our best to put neighboring principles into action

After one week, this group came back together and shared awesome stories of their new neighboring work. They shared about knocking on doors, spending more time in their front yards, helping the people next door, learning names and attempting to fill out their block maps to get to know the people around them.

But my favorite part of the group was how we shared our failed attempts: impatience with the chatty elderly woman who always finds a way to catch you when you’re outside, inconvenienced by the neighborhood children asking a million questions when you just really want to read quietly on your front porch, busy schedules preventing extra time to spend neighboring, and even working up the courage to knock on doors and introduce themselves but finding that no one was home anyway.

We’re finding unity in the fact that neighboring isn’t going to be easy. But it also isn’t hard.

The gift of learning about neighboring together is that we get to be inspired by others’ courage, even if they live all the way across town. We get to encourage each other as we take baby steps toward neighboring. I even found myself feeling convicted, as I confessed my own barriers to neighboring. I have to believe that this work of sharing God’s love by being good neighbors, even when it is done imperfectly, is a step toward faithful discipleship together.

And all of this has happened in one week! Can you imagine what it will look like if all 16 of us find a way to be better neighbors to our eight closest neighbors here in Winfield? That’s 128 homes benefiting from the Neighboring Movement.

We’re not there yet. But we are one week’s worth of neighboring closer than we were when we started. Our goal is that a month from now we will be unified a little differently:

·       We will all have fewer neighbors who we don’t know.

·       We will all have more neighbors we know pretty well.

·       We will all still be trying our best to put neighboring principles into action.

Now excuse me while I go work up the courage to ask my next-door neighbor of three years his name…


Be on the lookout for Lora's second post coming in a few weeks when her group finishes up. If you'd like to partner with SoCe Life email Adam at